Turkey cuts trees again to build more

More than 5,000 trees will be cut down for villa construction in Istanbul's Beykoz district, according to a report published on the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry’s official website.

A total of 553 villas will be built in around 2,5 million metre-squared forestland, the construction plan released by the ministry said. 

If the project starts, at least 5,00 trees, including coast pines, oaks, hornbeams, chestnuts, false acacias, will be destroyed, according to the Turkish opposition newspaper Evrensel. 

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has objected the construction plan and filed two lawsuits to stop the project. 

Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the head of the CHP’s Istanbul Branch, said they would stand against this "nature massacre."

"The Ministry today has approved that at least 5,000 trees have been slaughtered and replaced by concrete in Beykoz. We will use all our legal rights to stop this massacre of nature in Beykoz," Kaftancıoğlu said. 

CHP deputy Mehmet Akif Hamzaçelebi on Twitter also criticised the construction plan. 

"Betrayal to Istanbul continues. They change the construction plan in Kirazlı Forest of Beykoz, which was 'grade 1 natural site area' before, to build 553 villas in a 2,400,000 metre-squared area," he tweeted. 

CHP deputy Tahsin Tarhan also slammed the decision. "At least 5,000 trees would be cut down, what a pity," he said.

In September, Turkish authorities ordered hundreds of trees to be felled in the centre of the capital Ankara to create space for a museum commemorating the failed July 2016 coup attempt. 

A total of 657,000 of trees were also cut down for Istanbul’s third airport construction, according to environmental organisations. The Northern Forests Defense (Kuzey Ormanları Savunması), an environmental organisation in Istanbul, released a video showing the damage the project left on nature. 

In 2013, the authorities started to cut down the trees in İstanbul’s Gezi Park to build a shopping mall and restore a long-forgotten building without obtaining the necessary planning permissions. Mass protests took place across Turkey, quickly turning into a countrywide resistance movement against the anti-environmental policies of the government, and the authoritarian tendencies of then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.