Turkey plans for record-breaking day in tree planting

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 22.08.2019 00:20
A woman helps two children plant a tree in Diyarbakır, Feb. 19, 2018. Turkey regularly holds afforestation drives to increase the number of trees.
A woman helps two children plant a tree in Diyarbakır, Feb. 19, 2018. Turkey regularly holds afforestation drives to increase the number of trees.

At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is inviting people to plant a tree.

The ministry announced yesterday that they are looking to set a world record by planting 3 million trees in one go - simultaneously, at the same time - and make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. India currently holds a slightly different record with more than 220 million trees planted earlier this month in one day in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Ethiopia also achieved the same record of more than 220 million trees last month.

The planting events will be simultaneously held across Turkey but will concentrate on İzmir and Muğla, two western cities where forest fires destroyed hundreds of hectares of land.

The ministry said in a statement that Turkey was the third country in the world, after China and India, with highest tree planting rate and aimed to plant 7 billion saplings by 2023.

Forest fires, common in the summer, have been widespread in the country this season but the ministry says they now have more effective means to combat fires, noting that fire response time reduced to 14 minutes from 40 minutes. The ministry says more than 66,000 hectares of land have been damaged in fires in the past decade and 75.4 million trees were planted in those lands.

Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first came to power in 2002, forests grew to an area of 22.6 million hectares from 20.8 million hectares. In 16 years, 4.5 billion saplings were planted in planting campaigns. In the past year, 256 million trees were planted across the country, the ministry announced.

The ministry did not mention whether Nov. 11 will be designated as tree planting day. Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded to Enes Şahin, a Twitter user proposing the designation of a tree planting holiday for everyone to plant trees.

"This is a great idea, Enes. We've always worked for a greener Turkey and continue to do so. My friends and I will undertake all responsibility to make sure that we have a national tree planting day," the president said, indicating that Turkey may soon reserve a day for the occasion.

Amid a construction boom and concerns over global warming, Turkey has stepped up efforts to preserve and further expand its forests. Last year, school children in the country's 81 provinces planted tree saplings in one day for "Saplings Grow With Saplings" campaign organized by education and agriculture and forestry ministries.

Turkey is also pursuing a campaign to boost the production of saplings and increase revenue from forestry products, namely fruit and honey production, for villagers. The number of income-generating forests allocated to different villages currently stands at 3,500.

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