Turkey has adopted anotherenvironmentally controversial legal change that opens way for energy and infrastructure investments in forests urkish forests have been opened for energy construction with changes to the Forestry Law, in the latest of a series of moves from the govemnaeftUhat .raise concerns.
The move paves the way for the construction of energy facilities such as power plants and pipelines in forested areas, as well as majör transportation investments. It has been introduced through changes to three articles of the Turkish Forestry La w, published in the Official Gazette on April 18.
The new provisions allow the building of transportation facilities such as airports, railways, tunnels, sports and education complexes, communication facilities, and underground natural gas storage facilities.
In addition, universities vvill be permitted to build education and research centers, while the state-run university dormitöries body vvill be authorized to give permission for dormitory construction. The amendment also paves the way for treasure digs, . archeological excavations and restorations in leafy woodlands nationvvide.
Mounting worries Environmental Engineers Chamber Chairman Baran Bozoğlu said the new regulation leaves the field clear for "crazy projects," also warning of the additional fire-related risks of energy activities, particularly of energy exploration operations.
He said the government has made many changes regarding forested land settlements in the recent years and benefitted from them in projects like the third istanbul airport and bridge.
Greenpeace Mediterranean , Lawyer Deniz Bayram, meanvvhile, has said "In addition to being against the Constitution‘s 56th Article that defines the Right of Living in a Healthy and Balanced Environment, this regulation violates constitutional guar- r antees regarding the preserva;t; tion of the environment and nature," in a statement issued on the changes.He ujıderlined that the amended articles bind permission for investment in forested areas with "public welfare," which is usually perceived in relation with industrialization and development by the enforcers of the laws, according to him.
"The definition of public welfare is interpreted regarding industrialization and development in practice vvithout considering superior public benefits like the preservation of nature, environment and cultural assets," his statement read.
Bayram said the regulation published on April 18 brings a system that eases and speeds up the process of giving permission to settling green areas.
The destruction of leafy areas for majör infrastructure and energy investments, which have accelerated in recent years, has gained increasing public awareness of late.
The national parks regulation ,.was al$o recently amended and left vaguely worded, sparking vvarnings över "devastating consequences" by lawyers.
However, the most controversial cases involve the third istanbul airport and the third bridge över the Bosphorus. The construction of the bridge is continuing under scrutiny, with daily Radikal recently revealing that at least 28 production facilities vvill be planted in the forest as part of the construction works. Controversy is also looming regarding the third istanbul airport, construction of which has been delayed due to problems with the mandatory environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report.