Gov’t pulls back olive groves code after opposition move
Aysel Alp - ANKARAThe Turkish government has withdrawn a motion that threatened thousands of olives trees in the country following severe criticism from opposition parties and environmentalists.
If the new article, which was submitted to parliament as part of a new omnibus bill on May 17, had been accepted, any olive grove with fewer than 15 trees per decare would not be classed as an olive grove, thereby opening the way to development that could ruin livelihoods.
The move was undertaken in support of the development of industry and production, but the proposal was widely criticized by opposition parties as it threatened oil olive production and might have resulted in a building boom on olive oil lands.
Under the current law, olive groves are free from any industrial activity other than olive oil production, and oil producers have struggled to retain the law.
The government’s proposal would make it possible for quarries and other types of industrial facilities to be constructed on olive groves, according to olive growers. “This regulation is a death warrant for olive groves,” according to one.
According to the present law, establishing any industrial facility other than an olive oil factory is prohibited on olive groves and on areas within three kilometers of those lands, although the clause in the omnibus bill would have ended such protection.
The amendment would have also resulted in the abolition of three-month prison terms to anyone caught grazing animals on olive production lands and their replacement with fines of 5,000 Turkish Liras. Following the opposition from parties and ecologists, the government was forced to take a step back, vowing to increase the prison term from three to six months.
In line with the newest proposal of the government, those who cut down an olive tree without permission will also be fined 4,000 liras instead of the previous 2,000 liras.