Turks' obsession with pine trees ahead of New Year's renews concerns over illegal felling. Authorities warned citizens against the illegal chopping that carries a prison term of three months to five years as well as a hefty fine.
Pine trees decorated for Christmas in other countries find life in the Muslim-majority country as a celebratory display for New Year's events. An increasing demand for pine trees naturally created an illegal sector days before the onset of 2017.
The Forestry Ministry warned that they might welcome the New Year in prison if caught chopping the trees illegally. Instead, they encourage people to plant new trees to mark the New Year. Turkey already distributed 159 million saplings for free as part of reforestation efforts in a country that struggles with wildfires in the summer.
Forestry authorities in three cities have already launched a campaign to encourage locals to get pine tree saplings instead of felling grown trees. In Eskişehir, Bursa and Çanakkale in western Turkey, free saplings in large flower pots are being distributed. Officials urged citizens to plant them in the soil after using the decorated saplings on the occasion of New Year's.