The Civil Servants’ Union of Agriculture, Forestry, Husbandry and Environment Sectors (TARIM ORMAN-IS) conducted a panel titled, “A Liveable World Is Possible” on environment, with support from Union to Union. The participants of the panel, which was held on 7 September 2019 in the province of Canakkale in northwest Turkey, included union leaders and members, academics, and leading environmental activists.
The participants assessed the mining projects, which have caused a high-level of deforestation in Ida mountain as well as the rest of the country and reviewed their plans on how to campaign further against deforestation to enhance the capacity of the union’s activism. They also made a visit to the mining area and issued a public statement regarding the effects of mining projects on environment and the union’s struggle against the implementation of such projects in Canakkale,
In August 2019, the footages showed a vast denuded forest landscapes in Ida Mountain in Canakkale to start a gold-mining project led by Canadian company Alamos Gold Inc. and its Turkish subsidiary Dogu Biga. It also revealed that cyanide will be used in the processing of the gold. These revelations sparked a vast public outcry and a huge protest where almost 5,000 marched to the area. As a result, the union decided to conduct the panel in Canakkale to consolidate their support due to the public reaction.
Meanwhile, activists formed a campsite and started a watch called “Vigil for Water and Conscience” as cyanide could poison the drinking water in the area. Besides, TARIM ORMAN-IS had already filed a report on the fact that the water contaminated by cyanide which was stored in an abacus major of another mining project was used to extinguish a forest fire in the area in 2018.
During the march, Sukru Durmus, President of TARIM ORMAN-IS made a public appearance while he was using his authority as a forest ranger to lock the mining site to block entrance to the area as the company was destroying the forests and ecological system in the area.
Durmus stated “TARIM ORMAN-IS will fight for the protection of environment and believes that the environmental fight is an inseparable part of the trade unions struggle. In line with this principle, we locked one of the production sites of Alamos Gold since the company has been acting illegally by cutting down 600.000 trees instead of the 45,000 stipulated in the original permit. We are here to protect 200.000 trees, which the company is planning to cut down soon. We will continue fighting against on the ground and at the courts to protect this area against the devastating effects of neo-liberal policies.
According to the Foresters Foundation of Turkey, destruction of natural resources and deforestation have become vital issues and protests since Turkey approved 36,122 mining, energy and other projects between 2012 and 2017 located on a total of 246,257 hectares of woodland. In the light of these numbers, the union has been campaigning and trying all legal means for more than two years to halt and stop any kind of project, whether it is mining or building a garbage disposal area, which could pave the way to deforestation and damage to the environment.