The wildfires in Turkey have consumed tens of thousands of hectares of forests within the past two weeks, reaching villages and towns in the southern province of Antalya and western province of Muğla, killing eight people.
The ineffectiveness of the state institutions in effectively fighting the fires have been strongly criticized by many. Some have expressed their anger over the possibility that the areas razed by the fires in touristic regions could be converted into construction zones instead of being reforested.
Beyza Üstün, a prominent ecologist, academic and former member of parliament for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), spoke to MA, warning against further ecological destruction in Turkey.
She indicated that, as tens of thousands of hectares of forest have burned, and some wildfires were still raging in different places, it was suspicious that there had been so little interference in trying to put out the many fires.
“For at least eight days, no real action was taken in any place, and the fires were left to accelerate and spread,” she said. “They don’t have any intention of adopting certain policies in firefighting. (…) Dozens of firefighting helicopters and planes of the Turkish Aeronautical Association were kept grounded. There is no explanation for it.”
She accused the state authorities of taking part in an ecological massacre: “If a forest ecosystem is destroyed with all the living creatures it hosts, this is really a massacre. The responsibility for this massacre lies also with those who haven’t worked to extinguish it.”
Pointing out that all the razed areas were the ones which had been either declared zones of “touristic development” or granted mining licenses, she went on to say that this meant they would be ‘restructured.’
“It means, mines, stone quarries, mining companies will soon step in,” she said. “Their objective is not preservation of life; it is giving companies access to areas and adopt their policies accordingly. This is what the government is doing. So we must come together and confront it.”