World Bank, Türkiye Launch $400M Project for Resilient Forests

ANKARA, May 30, 2024-The Government of Türkiye and the World Bank launched the $400 million Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project to strengthen the country's capacity to protect people and forests from wildfires.

Türkiye is vulnerable to floods, wildfires, storms, and landslides, some of which are frequent and are driven by climate change impacts. In 2021, Türkiye's southern and western regions experienced the worst wildfires ever recorded in recent history. The area of coastal forestland scorched by the wildfires was eight times the size of average annual fires. The wildfires caused deaths and forced evacuations of hundreds of residents and tourists. They brought significant environmental, public health, economic, and environmental impacts affecting forests, communities, and many of the country's sectors like the timber industry, tourism, hunting, mining, beekeeping, and livestock.

The newly launched Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project will support the Government of Türkiye in strengthening wildfire management and resilience of forests and people against wildfires and the increasing risks of climate change in the country's 14 provinces that are the most at risk for wildfires. These provinces are home to about 20 million people, many of whom depend on forestland for their livelihoods.

"In the face of escalating wildfires that tragically claimed lives in 2021, Türkiye is proud to lead the charge in modernizing forest fire management. Our nation stands at the forefront, pioneering advanced technologies and holistic approaches to both prevent and suppress wildfires. The world looks to Türkiye as a beacon of innovation and resilience in safeguarding our forests and communities. As we embark on the Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project in partnership with the World Bank, we are taking decisive action to protect our precious forests and communities from the growing threats of megafires and climate change impacts. This project underscores our commitment to climate change and the health of our forests. Together with the World Bank and our stakeholders, we are charting a path towards a more climate-resilient future for Türkiye, ensuring the well-being of our people and the preservation of our invaluable forest ecosystems with the vision to emerge as a global leader in forest fire" said Bekir Karacabey, Director General, General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye.

Based on comprehensive and state-of-the-art integrated fire management approaches to wildfire suppression and prevention and through strengthened wildfire response and resilient restoration of landscapes and livelihoods affected by wildfires, the project will help reduce the country's vulnerability to climate change. Forests and landscapes restored and protected under the project will help conserve and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services and reduce CO2 emissions. More importantly, the project will protect and support the well-being and livelihoods of people in rural communities, including those located in the areas affected by last year's devastating earthquakes.

"Today marks a crucial step forward in our commitment to safeguarding communities and ecosystems. The Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests project underscores our dedication to proactive climate adaptation action and resilience-building. From conception to execution, our partnership with the Government of Türkiye, embodies unprecedented commitment and determination. We are proud to have launched this transformative initiative in record time, setting a new standard for proactively responding to climate change challenges," noted Humberto Lopez, World Bank Country Director for Türkiye.

The World Bank is an important and reliable partner for Türkiye in its disaster risk management efforts to protect people against the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. The Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project is fully aligned with the Türkiye Country Partnership Framework for 2024-2028, and the Country Climate and Development Report which highlight the importance of forests in the country's carbon balance. It also complements other World Bank projects currently underway. These include the $135 million Turkey Resilient Landscape Integration Project (TULIP), which promotes resilient landscape integration, and the $449 million Türkiye Earthquake, Floods and Wildfires Emergency Reconstruction Project, which supports reduction of wildfire hazards by promoting disaster and climate resilience at the municipal level.

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