Turkish General Staff mobilized for planting of millions of trees

Turkish General Staff mobilized for planting of millions of trees

Turkish General Staff mobilized for planting of millions of trees

DHA Photo

Turkey’s General Staff and the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry have signed a cooperation protocol to increase the size of forested areas in regions both under and outside the authority of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) so as to raise environmental awareness.

Some 8,080,684 trees were planted between 2008 and 2012 as part of the “the First Five-Year Program for Reforestation and Combat against Soil Erosion,” while almost 20 million square meters were terraced, the TSK said in an announcement posted on its official Website today.

The TSK and the ministry now plan to plant 2,986,118 trees between 2013 and 2017, the army said in its announcement.

Officially funded tree-planting and reforestation efforts have been drawing more public attention in the past sixth months after environmentalist concerns acted as a catalyst for the massive anti-government Gezi Park protests at the end of May.

In late May, a group of activists from Taksim Solidarity, a civil-society group that had voiced criticism over redevelopment plans for Taksim Square, gathered in Istanbul’s Gezi Park after bulldozers came to the area to cut down trees in the park. On May 31, police launched a violent dawn operation against occupying protesters in Gezi and dispersed a few hundred protesters from the park with tear gas and water cannon while burning their tents. The protests then spread across Turkey and continued for nearly two months.

Nearly 7,500 people have been injured, according to the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), while five protesters were killed as a direct result of the Gezi protests.

Recently, a road construction project at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) caused protests and public outcry after more than 3,000 trees were cut down by Ankara Metropolitan Municipality workers who entered the campus at night without permission.

Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launching of a campaign called “5 Million Trees for 5 Million University Students,” while declaring that nobody could compete with his government on environmentalism.