Turkey aims to increase its forests to cover the country's one-third of surface area by 2023, the president said on Thursday as part of National Afforestation Day.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a sapling planting event in the capital Ankara and said that according to the UN Global Forest Resources reports, Turkey ranked first in Europe and fourth in the world in afforestation studies.
"Huge forest areas burning on one side, floods on the other, and changing meteorological events such as drought on the other are the warnings of nature. We see these warnings and receive the message it gives, but we have deep doubts that the perpetrators of disasters have the same consciousness and determination. While we do our part to prevent the consequences of this change, we are also struggling with this distorted picture. Every sapling we plant is a sign of our struggle. Every voice we raise on international platforms is also a symbol of our struggle," Erdogan said.
He said Turkey has set a zero-emission target for 2053 by becoming a party to the Paris Climate Agreement and added that the country will always be at the forefront of increasing forest wealth.
Referring to the report, Erdogan noted that with the afforestation and rehabilitation works they have carried out, Turkey has increased its place in the world forest wealth ranking to 27. By the end of 2023, some 7 billion saplings would be planted and 30% of the country's surface area would be covered with forests, he also said.
Turkey struggled with forest fires during the summer in the country's southwestern provinces, Erdogan recalled, noting that they are rapidly reforesting the burned forest areas and said the goal is to complete the afforestation works within a year.
He said that with the Breath for the Future campaign, the priority was to heal the damaged forest areas by planting 252 million saplings by the end of the year.
"The Mediterranean Region, where the biggest forest fires have been experienced in recent years, is shown among the regions that will be most affected by climate change. When extremely high temperatures and extremely low humidity combine with strong winds, it becomes difficult to control forest fires.
"We had to pay the heavy price of all these negative conditions with a series of forest fires that started on July 28. This year, we fought 299 forest fires and 255 rural fires in 54 provinces of our country," Erdogan added.