Skip to main content

Destruction of olive trees in Turkey triggers protests

A Turkish company cutting down 6,000 olive trees serves as the latest example of disregard for the environment in Turkey.
Villagers drive a tractor carrying olive tree branches near the border city of Kilis in Gaziantep province April 21, 2012. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SOCIETY TRANSPORT) - RTR310YB

Turks have woken up to the importance of their environment since the May 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul that spread across the nation. “Istanbul is a big metropolitan area, unlike Yirca. Our population in this village here is only 400. Yet I realized in the last two to three days while appearing on television news, or speaking to journalists, how much people care about us here, too. That touched our heart,” Yirca village headman Mustafa Akin told Al-Monitor.

In the early hours of Nov. 7, 6,000 olive trees that were 85 to 100 years old were cut down in Yirca village, which is attached to the western town of Soma in Manisa province. The Kolin Group — one of Turkey’s biggest conglomerates and known to have a close relationship with the government — decided to build a power plant in the olive grove. “If they would have shifted their location by just one kilometer [0.6 mile], we would have kept our trees in place,” Akin said. “The Council of State decided 10 hours later that the company should stop all activities at our grove, but it was already too late. The trees are gone, and we are now waiting for the final decision of the court before making up our minds as to what we can or cannot do next.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.