Turkish projects boosting living standards of forest communities
Turkish General Director of Forestry İbrahim Çiftçi
Turkey’s goal for 2023 is to increase the size of this forested land to 23 million hectares. DAILY NEWS photoIn 2000, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was founded with a decision issued by the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.
Within this scope, the International Forest Regulation, which aims to promote the management, protection and sustainable development of forests while reinforcing long-term political commitments, was adopted.
With “Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests,” which was accepted at UNFF7 in 2007 and approved in the U.N. General Assembly the same year, it was decided to increase the contribution of forestry to the aims of sustainability. The aims are internationally recognized both through International Forest Regulation, and Millennium Development Goals, which deal with environmental sustainability and poverty eradication. Participants also determined to achieve these goals by 2015.
In pursuit of the UNFF’s Multi-Year Program of Work, the UNFF11, which is to be held in 2015, the effectiveness of International Forest Regulation will be the main subject matter as the future of the agreement is determined.
At the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, it was emphasized that deforestation is the most crucial factor threatening the climate and biological diversity, and it was agreed that forests constitute a “life support system” for humanity.
The 10th session of the U.N. Forests Forum was held to negotiate the theme of “forests and economic development.” The main aim of the session was to clarify four global goals and the forest contract that would be considered in designing and conducting policies related to forestry. Despite all the positive developments achieved so far, communities that have close ties with forests or live in forests have the worst income levels within their societies in many parts of the world.
Turkey is implementing various projects to increase the living standards of communities living in forests. As is known, the UNFF was founded with the aim of preserving and managing every kind of forests, while contributing to sustainable development. The UNFF has four main goals; as these aims are realized, we will be able to observe a gradual increase in the living standards of the forest communities.
GOAL 1: Reducing the loss of forests
Turkey is one of the rare countries that is increasing the size of its forests. Consequently, our country is contributing to the first goal to a great deal.
According to the 2010 Forest Resources Assessment Report (FRA), Turkey is among the top five countries increasing the size of its forest lands the most. Our forests occupied 20.2 million hectares of land in 1973, but this figure has now reached 21.7 million hectares. Our goal for 2023, is to increase the size of this forested land to 23 million hectares, which corresponds to 30 percent of our national territory. In addition, Turkey has also increased the overall areas under tree plantation from 936 million square meters to 1.480 billion square meters since 1973.
GOAL 2: Developing the economic, social and environmental benefits of forests
In our country, contributions to assessing non-wood forest products and services are gradually increasing in addition to Turkey’s creation of wood forest products. As a result of the importance attached to the subject as part of the restructuring process, the Non-Wood Forest Products and Services Department was established.
A variety of wood and non-wood products are obtained from forests. These products are completely natural, recyclable, reusable, biodegradable, and sustainable.
GOAL 3: Increasing the size of protected forested lands
In Turkey, protected areas including national parks, nature parks, nature preservation areas, natural monuments, wildlife areas, protected forests, forests in which genetic diversity is protected, seed stands, special environmental protection areas, Ramsar areas, and natural protected areas are being increased both numerically and in terms of area.
In Turkey, the overall area of protected land had reached 5,640,535 hectares at the end of 2012, while the proportion of protected lands to the country’s surface area is 7.24 percent.
Efforts are ongoing to increase this rate to 10 percent, which is the proportion seen in developed countries. Also, certified forested lands are being increased, thereby greatly aiding the wood-processing industry.
GOAL 4: Increasing the aid provided to developing countries
Our country is implementing many projects regarding forest and water affairs with other countries in the neighborhood through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA). Many projects regarding greening and providing fresh water are being conducted in various African countries.
To sum up, the primary requirements include focusing on the works of the International Forest Convention, producing and implementing policies for the solution of financial problems in fighting against rural poverty, supporting awareness training for the increase of effectiveness in the struggle against climate change, accelerating the works of assessing non-wood forestry products and services, greening the economy, forming an effective supervision and assessment system by developing policies and strategies with regard to the management of protected areas, and accelerating the works of preparing reports while the adhering to the principle of transparency.