Government excludes gains from sales of deforested land

Government excludes gains from sales of deforested land

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Government excludes gains from sales of deforested land

Some 25 percent of Turkey is forest land. Illegal settlers on these plots have been waiting for the defrosted land bill.

This year’s budget does not include any estimate of the proceeds from sale of deforested lands, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said yesterday.

Babacan’s remarks come one day after the Parliament’s approval on a draft law regarding the sale of such land and pasture, or “2-B” land.

The government sees the sale of 2-B land, which has largely been repurposed by individuals or companies, as a potential source of substantial revenue, but the law has been criticized on the grounds that it paves the way for even more deforestation.

Some of the proceeds would be used to reduce government debt, Babacan said while speaking to journalists.

“We counted revenues [from these sales] as zero while preparing the budget. Accordingly, we will make a decision later on how much we will spent out of these revenues on which investment projects. But we will use some portion in reducing debt,” he said.

Citizens who attested to being the user or owner of real property within the 2-B areas before Dec. 31, 2011, will have to apply to purchase them within three months, according to the new law.

Those benefitting from the law will pay 70 percent of the current value of the properties. Meanwhile, land within 300 meters of drinking and utility water basins will not be sold to rights holders, but those landholders will be eligible to purchase other 2-B property in the same province.

The Environment and Urban Planning Ministry will determine the borders of urban project zones, along with the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) and municipalities.

Under the new law, responsibility for overseeing 2-B lands falls to the Finance Ministry. Land defined in subsection A of Article 2 of the Forest Law is called “2-A” land

The law permits higher education institutions, except for foundation universities, to establish educational and research facilities and dormitories on the deforested land.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) has voiced concern that the law will leave forests defenseless and will hurt the livelihoods of those dwelling in forested areas, rather than improving their lifestyle, which is one purported benefit the government has been using to promote the law.