Prominent Turkish environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca, known as “Grandpa Earth,” passed away on Monday at the age of 97.
Karaca was best known for establishing the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA), the country’s first environmental non-profit organization, in 1992.
Karaca’s commitment to protect the flora and fauna of the country earned him the name of “Grandpa Earth” locally.
“We are deeply sorry for the loss of our Founding Honorary President and our Grandpa Earth, Mr. Hayrettin Karaca,” TEMA said on Twitter.
He was eventually awarded the Forest Hero Award from the United Nations in 2013 in recognition of his services.
Karaca was born in 1922 in Turkey’s western province of Balikesir, and took over his family’s prosperous apparel business after graduating high school.
In the later years of his life, his efforts led to the establishment of Turkey’s first private botanical garden.