Turkey is under huge risk of desertification, prominent environmentalist foundation says

A non-profit Turkish environmental organisation on Sunday said some 47 percent of the land of the country has been under risk of desertification and Turkey loses 640 million soil per year, independent news site Diken reported. 

Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) vice president Hikmet Öztürk said that the regions under the highest risk of desertification are the central, eastern and southeastern parts of Turkey due to less rainfall. 

“There is also an important desertification risk in agricultural lands in the Aegean Region,” Öztürk said. 

TEMA Foundation drew attention to the importance of soil, how soil is affected by climate change, combating desertification and drought ahead of June 17 Day to Combat Desertification.

Turkey is one of the countries that will be vastly affected by climate change, according to Öztürk.

The ruling Justice and Development Party's approach to the country's environmental problems and its mega construction projects, which according to the party is a showcase of Turkey’s prestige and standing in the world, has drawn widespread criticism. Trees are being felled to accelerate urban transformation plans, mega-projects, mines, hydro-electric and coal plants. 

However, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli on Saturday told the state-run Anadolu Agency that, with its afforestation, erosion control, and rehabilitation efforts over the last 10 years, Turkey is among the world's leading countries in adding forestland. 

Turkey is the world’s number three country in adding forestland, after China and India, according to the minister.