Turkey granted over 100,000 hectares of forest for energy projects in 10 years
As protests against mining continue in Turkey's Mugla province, new data reveals the vast forest land granted for energy projects over the past decade.
According to the General Directorate of Forestry, around 110,000 hectares of forest were allocated for mining exploration and operations between 2012 and 2022. That's more than 1 billion square meters or almost 154,000 football pitches.
The Forestry Directorate's data, obtained by the ANKA news agency, shows that a further 767 hectares of forest were approved for thermal power plants in the same period.
In addition, 1,000 hectares - the equivalent of 1,400 football pitches - were given to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project under permits granted by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation.
Critics say the figures point to significant deforestation. "The forest is being destroyed. The land cannot grow trees," the former dean of forestry at Istanbul University told ANKA.
Under Turkish law, forest areas can be granted for decades for energy and infrastructure projects deemed in the public interest. Mining permits can be extended for up to 99 years, while other facilities, such as power plants, are granted access for 49 years.
Environmentalists have decried the impact of mines and power plants on forests, which regulate the climate and provide critical wildlife habitat.
The data provides context amid the dispute over coal mining in Mugla's İkizkoy village, where protests have prevented authorities from cutting down trees to expand the mine.
Activists say the widespread allocation of forests for industrial energy projects undermines Turkey's climate commitments and enables environmental destruction.