There are gardens with more than 10 million olive trees in Edremit Bay on the outskirts of the Kaz Mountains in western Turkey. Women living in the Kaz Mountains have begun to prune the olive trees.
Kaz Mountains in the northwestern province of Çanakkale has been a natural protected site, but it has been a centre of dispute between the Turkish state and environmental activists over the years.
As licenses issued for mining operations that cover 79% of the Kaz Mountains threaten the environment, the famous olive trees of the mountains have also been significantly reduced in number. Two and a half million olive trees were cut on Kaz Mountains previously to enable the construction of luxury residences.
Locals of Kaz Mountains continue to take care of the olive trees as their livelihoods depend on it. Women living in Kaz Mountains work hard preparing for the new season. Pruning with a saw is amongst the hardest tasks to be undertaken.
Güllü Sarıoğlu, one of the women agricultural workers, states that it is her first time to work with a saw in this manner. “They asked us if we could do pruning and we said: ‘Of course we can’. We, as women, can do everything and get over any difficulty”, she added.
The environment in the region has been under considerable threat in recent years due to the Canadian-based company Alamos Gold’s plans to initiate a gold mine project in Kaz Mountains.
Alamos Gold cut nearly 200,000 trees in Kaz Mountains: this led to public outrage and after massive protests that continued for several months, the permissions granted to the company were revoked. However, metallic mining operations continue in other areas of Çanakkale as well.