We have a wish for Anatolia

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“Let there be someone to share whatever they have.

And someone to find and bring whatever is lacking.”

Did 2023 not pass exactly like this? We always wanted to share whatever we had…

After the earthquake disaster, we were millions coming together in solidarity. We mobilised to deliver help to the region. Food was transported for animals, too. Cats were rescued from houses and sheep from under the ground. Everyone tried to do what they could and more. Even though we did not have a background in this field, together with our volunteers, we were able to provide support to around 6000 people who were either staying in the region or had to leave.

After the elections, major massacres started again. Those led by Limak Holding and YK Enerji in the Akbelen Forest were black marks against the history of nature conservation in Turkey.

“I couldn’t feel my limbs every time a tree was cut down. It felt like they were cutting me down, cutting my children down. I went there, but I still could not save them.” Aytaç Yakar cried out the howls of the trees, the birds, the earth the whole world. We were all there for Akbelen. What was absent was the law. Justice was not served under any circumstances.

Climate Justice was the concept we focused in this year. We organised four seminars with experts working in the field. Against the impact of climate change, many lives are under threat, and the conditions are not equal. We must be ready to seek justice against this inequality. For this purpose, a climate justice network was created with 155 legal experts.

When it comes to the law, as surprising as it is, we are still winning cases! For instance, we blocked the change in regulations regarding the opening of wetlands for organised industrial zones. We carried out the third Law and Nature School. Our network of legal experts reached 129 people.

We turned our 20 years of experience in defence of nature into a guide. “Advocacy Guide for Defenders of Nature” is live on our website. It is a must-read whenever you feel the need. You will see that it is easier than you think to exercise our rights.

How did the nature of Turkey change in 17 years? We are trying to answer this question together with academicians, experts and volunteers. The inventory of Turkey’s Key Biodiversity Areas is being updated after 17 years. We are determining the status of species that are threatened, endemic to Turkey and spread throughout a narrow area, as well as their habitats.

In order to prevent electrocution, which is a serious threat to birds, we isolated another 100 electric poles. With 348 poles, the isolation of a 40km line was completed. Birds like storks and vultures will now have a safer migration journey.

Many wetlands and freshwater cycles are being lost as a result of the wrong water, agriculture and mining policies in Turkey. One of the most horrific examples of this is Marmara Lake in Manisa being desiccated and turned into an agricultural land. So many wetlands were destroyed that the word “restoration” replaced “conservation”. Our restoration efforts are beginning in Izmir’s Gediz Delta. This 4.5-year project, in collaboration with various organisations, is aimed to curb salinisation, increase biodiversity and decrease pollution.

Have you heard about our programs on Açık Radio in Türkiye? Let’s meet every two weeks on Wednesday at 14.00 on Nature Conversations in Turkish.

One of the most important news of the year was the recognition of Anatolian olive cultivation in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Olive trees were among the trees impacted the most by climate change; in many regions, they were unable to produce olives. Is this giving us notice of an impending food and water crisis? No matter what happens, Anatolia is incredibly strong. We just need to sustain the teachings of Anatolia’s nature and culture.

Do you know of Yavaş Dükkan/Doğa’s Shop, the reason why Doga can file lawsuits and move freely without needing sponsors? The shop supports production in Indigenous Production Landscapes and Key Biodiversity areas while all proceeds are used in nature conservation efforts.

It was also a busy year in digital media. Our posts, shared with the intent to be the voice of nature, reached 5 million people on Instagram, 1.5 million on Facebook and 2 million on X in some months.

We have all witnessed the way time can be warped in 2023. With disasters like earthquakes, days, hours, and minutes slowed down. Önder Cırık, who had made great contributions to nature and culture, were among those we lost in the earthquake. The 20th Bird Conference of Türkiye was dedicated to him. We have lost Tansu Gürpınar, who is considered to be the connoisseur of conservation in Turkey, to illness. With every breath we take, we feel the sorrow of witnessing the wars and genocides happening in the world from afar.

Our Earth continues its journey in its orbit with a speed of approximately 30 km per second. Every year, we come nearer to the sun, the star closest to us. This year, a new planet suitable for life was discovered 100 million light years away from us. In the universe, stars are born; they do not die. They turn into black holes. Anatolian ashiks, traditional singer-poets, say “Death dies, but we do not.”

We wish for a new year in which we will follow the path of nature and ashiks.

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