Taking action to save Turkey’s olive groves

Taking action to save Turkey’s olive groves

Thousands of olive trees in our country are at risk of being cut down because of a draft law submitted to parliament on May 17. 

The Friends of Olives Association (Zeytindostu Derneği) has kicked off a campaign to save olive trees in Turkey, which you can view at Change.org here. It aims to collect one million signatures and save our olive trees. Its slogan is “Don’t touch my olive tree.”  

The May 17 omnibus bill was prepared based on a report from the Science, Technology and Industry Ministry, supposedly written to support the development of industry and production. 

The Friends of Olives Association says that our country, with its 171 million olive trees, is the second top olive producer in the world. Olives are among the most abundant gifts offered to us by our climate and our land. 

In many ancient cultures and religions, the olive was sacred. It was seen as a special tree symbolizing wisdom, peace, life, brotherhood, friendship, victory, wealth, plentitude, immortality and productivity. The olive has witnessed the history of humanity. Its birthplace is Mesopotamia, which our country is also a part of. 

Article 9 of Law No. 3573 on Olive Improvement states in simple language that olive groves are expected to have no more than 15 trees for each decare. 

In the new omnibus law recently submitted to parliament, it is stated that land which does not have at least 15 trees for each decare cannot be considered an olive grove. 

I don’t think I need to say that one olive is one olive, do I? 

According to Law No. 3573 on Olive Improvement, establishing any industrial facility other than one for olive oil production is prohibited on olive production lands and on areas within 3 km of those lands.

However, with the latest omnibus bill trying to be passed, a council will be authorized to allow olive groves to be used for investment. The council will have members from the Environment Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Forestry Ministry, as well as from non-governmental organizations. 

The Friends of Olives Association insists that the omnibus bill should be stopped and the existing Law No. 3573 should be preserved as it is with no amendments.
That existing law states that those who cut down an olive tree without permission must pay a fine of 2,000 Turkish Liras per tree.

In ancient times, the olive tree was so sacred that any unauthorized cutting down of an olive tree was often punished with death. 

Today in Turkey, the amendment states that a fine of 5,000 liras will be handed to those who graze animals on olive production lands, removing the current three-month imprisonment term. 

The association says that the cost of mistakes we make regarding olive trees here, in their motherland, will be paid by our children and future generations. 

The top aim of the Friends of Olives Association is to increase the number of olive trees in our country. It is against the latest omnibus bill and is asking people to sign its Change.org campaign.