Lookouts at Turkey’s southwestern forest met with gendarmerie intervention

Turkish gendarmerie forces intervened with a group of people keeping watch over Akbelen forest in southwestern Muğla's fire-hit Milas district, in a bid to prevent the felling of trees to make way for a lignite mine.

Gendarmerie dragged the people out of the forest as it set up barricades, Bianet news website reported on Tuesday.

“The place we were located is a private estate, which belongs to an individual and we have the permission of the owner to stay here,” it cited Deniz Gümüşel from the Ikizköy Committee of Environment as saying.

While 105 trees have been reportedly cut down in the area under the pretext of preventing fires, environmentalists and Ikizköy villagers where the forest is located are keeping a watch on Akbelen forest for the last 25 days to prevent more trees to be cut. 

The trees were cut down for extending the mining site for coal supply to Yeniköy Thermal Power Plant which is operated with lignite by the Limak Holding, Bianet said, adding that the villagers and environmentalists sued the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the General Directorate of Forestry for granting permission to Limak Holding to open a lignite mine in the 740-decare Akbelen Forest.

The court ruled for a subject matter expert examination in the forest, but the General Directorate of Forestry began cutting trees on July 17 without waiting the court’s final ruling, it said.

In response, Ikizköy villagers filed a criminal complaint against the General Directorate of Forestry officials citing misconduct, it said.

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