Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry aims to plant 11 million trees on 11 November in 2023 locations across the country. Citizens will have the option to participate in the planting or donate money. Entitled “Be a Breath for the Future”, this campaign is in fact an attempt by the Ministry of Forestry to cover up a policy of systematic destruction of forests. It was also that very ministry that allowed a Canadian company to cut destroy forests in Turkey’s Kaz mountains and prevented planes from putting out forest fires last summer.
This objective of this campaign is to cover up scandals.
The Ministry of Forestry routinely opens up forest ecosystems for economic exploitation. It distributes permits to use forests for mineral exploitation, mining, construction and even for oil drilling. In 2012, 2,810 permits were granted for those purposes. Between 2012 and 2018, that number rose to 18,515.
Energy companies are free to use forests in whatever manner they wish. They can build anything from dams to fish farms. The Ministry of Forestry would even allow one to treasure hunt in forests. Between 2012 and 2018, 7,990 permits were issued for areas outside of mining and energy.
No one stops you from building wastewater treatment plants, sports facilities, solid waste disposal plants or even cemeteries. Between 2012 and 2018, 14,617 such projects were granted permits in the same period.
More general figures show that forests are being used for anything but forests. Between 2012 and 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry granted a whopping 41,122 permits for mining, energy and other facility projects to be built inside forests.
Needless to say, the 11-million trees campaign serves to cover up those 41,122 permits granted to the destruction of forests.
While planting 11 million trees is a positive policy, the Ministry of Forestry falls short of people to take care of the trees once they have been planted.
The General Directorate of Forestry had 13,413 employees in 2015 but this number dropped to 10,667 in 2018, that is 2,746 employees were laid off. In other words, one in five employees were laid off. As the remaining number of employees is insufficient, the maintenance of the newly planted trees will most likely be handed to a tender. The state is making citizens partners of project that has no guarantee of sustainability.
And if those saplings were to grow into trees, then what? Will they become forests only to be cut down for financial gain, as was the case with the Kaz mountains? There, a Canadian company cut down 200 thousand trees, in an area of almost 600 hectares (1,482 acres). The total size of the forest area granted to mining, energy and other business permits in 2018 amounted to 25, 192 hectares (62,250 acres). That’s 42 times the forest area that was razed in the Kaz Mountains.
In other words, the 11 million trees citizens will plant will serve to cover up this sweeping deforestation.
Besides, 11 million trees take up about 5-6 thousand hectares (13-15 thousand acres) meaning that if trees are planted on one unit of land on November 11, 5 units of land have already been destroyed in 2018 by the granting of permits to mining, energy and other companies.
So will 11 million trees be enough to cover up almost 5 times the size of deforestation?
Worse, a forest area of 40-50 times that size was destroyed between 2012-18. The size of forest area that was cut down during that period for stone quarries, gold mines, treasure hunts, hydroelectric plants, hotel constructions was exactly 271,449 hectares (537,328 acres). Hence, the 11 million new trees will not help cover the hundreds of thousands of hectares destroyed over the past six years.
The Ministry of Forestry should be called the Ministry of Deforestation.
The forest is more valuable than ever. Economic activities such as mining and energy production in forest should be banned altogether. In Turkey it seems as if forests have become an economic item, they can be cut down or planted. Today all politicians seem to have adopted this view.
Moreover, it has become a routine for the Turkish government to cover up its crimes. This has more to do with democracy than with the environment.
The “Be a Breath for the Future” campaign to plant 11 million trees is little more than a cover-up attempt. Don’t be an instrument of it.
Today, Ankara is not Wuhan. Wuhan is a good example compared to our capital city. Today, Ankara is a construction site. Ankara residents have to remind the city again that they do not want a municipal administration that works for contractors — alongside a presidential system that works for contractors.
This good news about the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea at the same time means a disaster for the environment. Turkey is a country in which environmental protection standards are very low, and it cannot control even this. This project will be the end of the Black Sea.
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In the past four months, none of our municipalities prepared the infrastructure for washing our hands. They were not able to meet the sidewalk conditions of 1.5 meters width for the social distancing of pedestrians. Almost all of our 1,397 municipalities have failed according to these criteria, including opposition ones.
Even though there are now 163,000 cases detected in Turkey and even more cases that are undetected, the malls are opening. At what cost and for whose sake they are opening? It is quite apparent that they are not opening for our sake; the data is clear. When you review the equation from the point of view of the novel coronavirus, then you have five huge reasons not to step inside these malls.
In Turkey, the pandemic seems to have also opened asphalt season for some local administrations. Municipalities regarded this period as a huge opportunity to pave asphalt.
The Energy Ministry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan tells us a lot about the government's intentions. It is obviously a plan that still insists on coal and hydroelectric power policies, and that has solar and wind energy only as an accessory. The climate crisis is not even mentioned.
The first coronavirus month in Turkey will be recorded in history as the month of opportunism, the month of abusing a pandemic. It kept some of its people at home and others at mines and factories, turning the country into a labor camp. Only the local administrations were left, but there were policies to curb their powers as well.
As a host to 85 percent of all international travels, Istanbul has become an attraction center for coronavirus. And as a host to 38 percent of Turkey’s domestic travels, Istanbul spread the virus to the rest of the country.
The Turkish government has not taken steps related to the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. They actually took steps in the opposite direction asking people to do their own homework and resisting a total lockdown in the country. Meanwhile, the opposition self-quarantined itself politically.
Both the stage that the capitalism has reached globally and Turkey’s implementation of it, cannot be neglected while discussing the underlying factors which tie the climate crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak to each other.
In 2019, the number of issues broke the record with 935 extreme meteorological issues recorded in Turkey. That's 9 times the overall number recorded for the second half of the 20th century. Last year, floods occurred in cities including Ordu, Düzce, Trabzon, Antalya and Mersin that cost the lives of many people.
While Russia needs to sell its energy to Turkey, the US must stay within the Middle East to get its oil. That is why they are both seeking Turkey on their side.At the moment, Turkey is paying for the Syrian war with its loved ones and poverty. It is only by achieving peace with its neighbors that we can attain a win-win situation.
Thanks to a Special Communication Tax that was introduced after the 1999 earthquake, some 67.5 billion Turkish Liras have been collected up to now for earthquake relief. But rather than on earthquake preparedness, the money was largely spent on construction projects.
Kanal Istanbul is a project based on unjust profit-earning that is well-known first to Turkish companies, followed by Arab, European, and even Pakistani capital owners. But we still don’t know the full truth of what is going on with the project. Good that we do not know, because if we did, the Kanal Istanbul project would end immediately.
According to OECD data, Turkey allocated 289 million dollars for waste management in 2008. Ever since, the country has developed and grown, right? Despite this, the money allocated for waste management fell to 147 million dollars in 2015. We have a government that does not want to manage waste and spend money on it. Burying trash is easy; the soil is free.
President Erdoğan's government recently suffered two fiascos, one involved thermal power plants while the other had to do with a plan to rescue the private company “Simit Sarayı”. So why would it press forward with the Kanal Istanbul project?
It is possible for us to close down all coal mines! The way to this has been paved with the veto on the proposed bill. But if we leave public policy unattended and representatives continue to leave parliament seats empty, the opposite will happen. I should point out as a warning that, just like the Environment and City Planning Minister could actually be referring to the business schedule when he says “we installed a filter in 6 months,” a similar wordplay could be at hand with the veto. We will go after the answer together, I promise.
We know how much the ministry earned from shopping bags in the first nine months of the year. At 25 kuruş (cents) for each nylon bag, 15 kuruş were deposited to the ministry and the total was 188 million lira. You heard it right, 18.8 billion kuruş.
The government has found a way to take back the Bosphorus after losing İstanbul elections. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has drafted a 28 point legislative proposal called the Boshporus Law. With the new law, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and four provinces no longer have any authority in the Bosphorus.
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Erdoğan changed the climate of the UN Climate Action Summit. He talked about how he multiplied fossil fuels and how not recycling waste is a good thing, and he put concrete as a policy on the world stage.
Turkey wants to be a party to the Paris Agreement as the structure of the deal allows countries to increase emissions. Turkey, which is among the 12 countries that have not yet joined the agreement, had added 193.5 million tons to climate changing greenhouse gases in last 20 years before 2010.