'Turkish gov't underreports forest fires'

A foresters' association slammed official data about Turkey's forest fires in 2020, noting that the Forestry General Directorate (OGM) had been known to underreport burned forestland in previous years. The OGM reported some 2,279 forest fires in the country this year.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu / DUVAR

Massive forest fire erupts in Turkey's southMassive forest fire erupts in Turkey's south

Turkey's recorded some 2,279 forest fires in 2020 so far, data from the Forestry General Directorate (OGM) revealed, although the Turkish Foresters Association slammed the numbers, saying that they were an underrepresentation of reality.

"It's known that forestland that burned down have been underrepresented in previous years. Not only does this underrepresentation hurt professional credibility, but also devalues all the hard work done by foresters," the association said in an official statement, adding that about 30 percent more forestland burned down in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Noting the detrimental effect the climate crisis has on forestland around the world, the association said that the OGM needed to reform from the bottom up to be able to convey correct data.

"There will be 200 hectares of burned land, and they'll say it's 100. But when you look at the areas that will be 'regenerated' you see that in fact twice the size of land burned than what was said," the association noted.

More than 110 hectares of forest land burned down in Turkey in 2019More than 110 hectares of forest land burned down in Turkey in 2019

The OGM should also reform their employment policies, the association noted, as they'll often sign workers on short contracts, causing high turnover and low experience levels among the staff.

The association demanded foresters be put on payroll, that all forest workers are given continuous training and that contract hirings stop.