Istanbul authorities on alert to prevent illegal cutting down of pines ahead of New Year’s Eve
Authorities in Istanbul have taken measures to prevent illegal cutting down of pine trees ahead of New Year’s Eve, with officials carrying out extensive controls in forested areas for the past 15 days to protect the trees.
“Our units have been continuing their controls in certain parts of forests 24/7 for the past 15 days in order to protect the pine trees used for the celebration of the new year,” Recep Ateş, the head of Istanbul Forestry Regional Directorate, said, adding that saplings are set to be distributed free of charge to the public in certain locations.
Speaking to journalists in Istanbul’s Bahçeköy district on Dec. 26, Ateş said they are conducting works to stop people from illegally benefiting from forests.
“There isn’t only a special team but all of our forest safeguarding officials and forestry chiefs have been working in the forests near the districts of Şile, Kanlıca, Kartal, Beykoz, Bahçeköy and Arnavutköy,” he said, adding that destruction may sometimes be spotted in the places that have pines, firs and spruces.
“A total of 10 people were caught illegally cutting down pines until today. They aim to sell those in the market. We referred them to courthouses after apprehending them. Between three months and five years of jail sentence and up to 1,000 days of administrative fines are given for the crime,” Ateş also said.
While warning citizens who want to buy pines for New Year’s Eve to ask for a document that shows it was supplied legally from a plantation, Ateş noted that pines are being sold for between 50 and 150 Turkish Liras at the directorate.
Starting on Dec. 27, pine saplings are set to be distributed to the public for free in front of shopping malls in Kartal, Kadıköy, Bakırköy and Şişli, the northwestern provinces of Kırklareli and Tekirdağ and the western province of Edirne until Dec. 31.
Ateş urged citizens taking the free pines “to make them meet the soil,” under the slogan “Don’t Cut Trees, Plant Saplings.”
A drill was conducted after Ateş’s speech, where several people were apprehended by patrolling units for cutting down trees as part of the drill’s scenario.