Kurdish Question Politics

Şırnak lost huge chunk of its forests in months due to tree felling for military ops

Şırnak lost huge chunk of its forests in months due to tree felling for military ops


Mass tree felling has been going on for about two years in Şırnak, a predominantly Kurdish-populated province in Türkiye’s southeast.

The issue has recently become a talking point, with NGOs documenting the extent of the tree felling, the reason for which is the military operations in the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In a report released in early July, the Şırnak Bar Association’s Environment and City Commission said the province had lost 7 percent of its forests in seven months.

Cutting down of trees takes place in the mountainous areas between Şırnak and Siirt, in the Şırnak city center, and partly in the areas between Şırnak’s İdil and Mardin’s Midyat districts, according to the report.

Because of arbitrary and unregulated practices, old and endemic trees are also cut down, it said.

Every day, 10 to 15 trucks carry felled trees to surrounding provinces, as well as to Kayseri, Antep, Osmaniye and other provinces, where the trees are sold at prices much below their market value, said the report.

“Local cronies”

The trees are sold to “local cronies,” Rojhat Dilsiz, the head of the Şırnak Bar Association, said last week.

“We have observed that a new process has started in our region regarding the forest areas that are burned, cut down and damaged on the grounds of ‘security.’

“As a result of the studies carried out, we have seen that forest areas are offered to local cronies without adhering to the procedures in any way.

“We and environmental activists are not allowed to go to the field and make observations. There is a serious slaughter of nature going on.”

Yesterday, executives of the opposition parties’ provincial organizations in Şırnak, the Şırnak Bar and the Şırnak Ecology Platform gathered in the city to make statements about the issue.

“Nature is being slaughtered”

The group displayed a banner that read, “Nature is being slaughtered in Şırnak,” as well as placards with the messages, “No to the looting of nature,” “If nature is destroyed, life dies.”

Hasan Özgüneş, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy for Şırnak, said, “By making this region baren, you are being hostile to the people.”

He blamed the recently appointed governor of Şırnak, Osman Bilgin, for helping “rent-seekers.”

Nizar Ökten, the provincial head of the Future (Gelecek) Party, said, “the rent-seeking groups who get their strength from the government disrupt the balance of the region.”

He called on the provincial director of agriculture and forestry to resign. “The rent-seeking groups keep you there. The democratic people of this country will raise their voices against the corruption and bribery groups.”

Officials of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party also attended the demonstration.

Turkey has long been accused of burning forests and cutting down trees for military reasons during its decades-long conflict with the PKK in the country’s Kudish-majority regions. (VK)


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