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TURKISH FORESTS SPRING BACK TO LIFE AFTER DESTRUCTIVE 2021 WILDFIRES…

Forests in the country’s southwestern region vastly impacted by severe wildfires in 2021 are reviving following timely rehabilitation efforts, General Directorate of Forestry reported…

Rehabilitation, including damage assessments and reforestation efforts, has been completed in the regions of southwestern Türkiye following the historic wildfires two years ago, General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) head Bekir Karacabey noted Thursday.

The director coordinated the works in the areas ravaged by one of the most enormous wildfires in the history of Türkiye. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), he said that the campaign for the renewal of the eradicated regions took place after the fires.

Bekir Karacabey

Reiterating that the rehabilitation works of the regions destroyed by the 2021 fires had been completed, Karacabey said that they have made great efforts to restore the areas in question and bring them to their former, or even healthier condition.

He also said that the Constitution guarantees this issue. “When a forest fire occurs in a place listed under Article No. 169 of our Constitution, afforestation work begins immediately for that area. As in all forest areas that have been damaged so far, the technical work has been launched for all 139,500 hectares of forest area that were engulfed in flames in 2021,” he added.

Karacabey further stressed that no construction or zoning activities are permitted in any forested area. He provided detailed insight into the meticulous analysis and measures undertaken to revitalize the forests.

Ecological, technical and economic assessments were conducted to evaluate the extent of damage in the burned areas, Karacabey explained.

Subsequently, plans were devised to facilitate the natural regeneration and the selection of suitable seeds for cultivation, with the entire process and other steps for the afforestation meticulously aligned with a well-structured timeline, he noted.

Approximately two years later, the photographic frames also reflected the change in the areas affected.

The image shows a comparison between the area destroyed by forest fires in 2021 and the reviving forests in 2023. (AA Photo)
The image shows a comparison between the area destroyed by forest fires in 2021 and the reviving forests in 2023. (AA Photo)

While the burned areas were completely cleared, it was observed that the vegetation in the region began to revive. It is expected that the region will gradually become greener in the coming period.

Detailing the initiatives undertaken within the framework of reforestation, Karacabey also noted that some 30,000 hectares of impacted areas were left untouched, as the field personnel only removed the burnt trees and left the ground in its natural state by sprinkling seeds.

“We plowed 30% of the remaining 100,000 hectares with construction machinery and planted saplings. We carried out our reforestation activities by preparing the land and planting seeds in the remaining 70% of it. I can clearly state that we have not allowed any burned forest area to be used for zoning, construction or other purposes other than the forest, and we will not,” Karacabey maintained.

Natural disasters’ impact

Karacabey drew attention to the intensified occurrence of natural disasters worldwide, such as droughts, forest fires and floods, all exacerbated by the adverse effects of climate change.

Experts have forecast an escalation in the severity of these conditions in the years ahead. Highlighting the global landscape of significant forest fires since July 2021, Karacabey cited the “Dixie Fire” in California, U.S., which ignited at the end of July and persisted for 105 days.

Emphasizing that last year, the weather aggravating wildfires occurred much less than in 2021, Karacabey acknowledged that remarkable success was achieved despite the event experienced in 2021.

Ultimately, Karacabey also emphasized the limits of human intervention when faced with the forces of nature. By scrutinizing fire statistics over the past five years within the context of global warming and climate change, he noted an increase in the frequency and extent of fires, except for the previous year’s data.

These observations serve as a reminder of the pressing need to address these environmental challenges and fortify our resilience against them.

In line with the afforestation efforts, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry unveiled plans for bolstering the fleets and on-ground personnel to counter forest fires throughout the season. In a delivery ceremony at the start of May, several aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), were added to the General Directorate of Forestry’s inventory.

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About İsmail Uğural

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