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Table 1 Scoring of Turkish legislation on how well it meets Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidelines on legal and regulatory frameworks related to forest fires, as the result of our review of Turkish legal regulations and administrative practices, in 2019. .Scoring was done on a scale of 0 to 4: 0 = does not include any provision or practice; 1 = includes very narrow provision or practice and is insufficient; 2 = includes an indirect provision or practice but is not sufficient; 3 = includes a positive, indirect provision or practice and is sufficient; 4 = includes a positive, direct provision or practice and is sufficient

From: Forest fire and law: an analysis of Turkish forest fire legislation based on Food and Agriculture Organization criteria

FAO criterion   
Explanation Turkish practices for meeting criterion Score
Definitions
Clarity of basic definitions and technical terms related to forest fires and their inclusion in legislative texts
  • No specific law regarding definitions relating to forest fires has been enacted in Turkish legislation. Forest Law No. 6831 from 1956 (Ayanoğlu and Güneş 2003) includes some definitions about which lands are to be regarded as forestlands. It does not have specific definitions relating to forest fires.
• A few definitions are found in the “Regulation Regarding Compensation Payable to Those Injured and Killed During Forest Fire Fighting” of 2004 (Bayındır 2016). The definitions are about compensation, forest-fire fighting, and disability levels. Therefore, it can be concluded that there are no satisfactory definitions concerning forest fires in the regulations.
• Notification No. 285 (Mestav 2009), which deals with practices, includes a few more definitions. Notifications are about the written sources that follow regulations within the legislation hierarchy. Notification No. 285 was issued by the General Directorate of Forestry. The Forest Administration is authorized to make changes according to the situation. In this notification, the term forest fire has been described and types of forest fires have been explained. The notification explains the causes of fire in detail, methods to be followed during firefighting, and the planning and organization needed during fire extinguishing.
2
Organizational structure and coordination among organizations
The coordination among organizations concerned with fighting forest fires
  • The General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) is the institution responsible for dealing with forest fires in all regions of Turkey. The Department of Forest Fire Combating works under OGM. It has 28 district offices, 243 forestry departments, and 1403 forest sub-district directorates that are responsible for combating fires. Each forestry department is equipped with enough fire engines, tools, helicopters, and planes to manage fires during the peak seasons (OGM 2015).
• Under Articles 68 to 71 of Forest Law No. 6831 (Ünal 2010) regarding mail, communication, and transportation organization, the constabulary of internal affairs and the governors of the provinces are responsible for coordinating and providing services for firefighting. For instance, the law states that provisions for the “Regulations for the Duties of Officials Assigned with the Prevention and Extinguishing of Forest Fires” shall be executed by the Ministries of National Defense, Internal Affairs, Communications, and Forestry.
4
Planning, monitoring, and evaluation
The establishment of fire management centers and necessary pre-fire and post-fire planning, monitoring, and evaluation processes during the seasons when forest fires peak
  • Complete 24-hour surveillance is carried out by observers in 776 watchtowers to detect forest fires and notify response teams as soon as possible.
• Article 75 of the Forest Law (Mestav 2009) states that providing watchtowers, communication systems, and other equipment for combating forest fires is obligatory and setting a budget for those purposes is also obligatory.
• Notification No. 285 outlines regulations on planning for and operating watchtowers.
• The General Directorate of Meteorological Services shares data on weather conditions, temperature, wind direction, and wind speed as they relate to fire hazards and activities. The directorate also provides information on the most common times of day at which forest fires break out.
4
Prevention and preparedness, scanning, early warning, and suppression
The prevention, prohibition, or limitation of flammable elements and activities that may cause fires; regulations on preparedness for forest fires that occur in spite of precautions; methods for suppressing fires; provisions for scanning; and the establishment of the technological infrastructure that provides early warnings for the sake of an immediate response
  • Article 76 of Forest Law No. 6831 (Ünal 2010) forbids the lighting of fires in forests except in permitted areas, and also forbids the dropping of flammable materials and live cigarettes in forests. As per Article 110 of the Forest Law (Ünal 2010), the penalty for these acts is imprisonment from one to three years.
• Article 75 of the Forest Law states that providing communication systems and other equipment for combating forest fires is obligatory, and setting a budget for this purpose is also obligatory.
• The OGM has established, under the authority granted it by the Law, a Forest Fire Early Warning and Management System (considered among the best projects by the public in 2005). The system locates rising smoke within 15 seconds after a fire starts and forwards the data to the Fire Operations Center. Response teams then decide whether to try to extinguish the fire by land or air after considering geographical features (www.ogm.gov.tr). The software for this purpose was developed with the support of TUBITAK (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and has been sold to many countries, such as the United States of America, Italy, Greece, and Tunisia, and is still in use (www.tubitak.gov.tr).
4
Public participation and social approach to fire management
Because forest fires may have a direct influence on living conditions, especially in regions where the public lives in close proximity to them, provisions are offered about public participation in fire prevention and raising the consciousness of the public about the issue.
  • As in the general environmental issue, Turkish legislation alone is not enough to connect the public with the issues concerning forest fire prevention and impacts. The Regulation Regarding Compensation Payable to Those Injured and Killed during Forest Fire Fighting (Bayındır 2016) is active, as well. Notification No. 285 also includes regulations about those who are to participate in forest-fire fighting and states that catering for the participants shall be provided by the Forest Administration. 1
Creating a fire line
Regulations regarding the circumstances for and method of creating a fire line as a means of fire suppression
  • Creation of a fire line, or counterfire, is only regulated by Notification No. 285. It is only done by a fire warden or a craft authorized by a fire warden due to the great risk it bears. The goal is to get a forest fire under control before it gets worse by rapidly reducing or completely removing flammable material from the fire’s path. Either a counterfire or a gradual counterfire can be implemented. Fire safety roads and firebreaks, forest roads, natural obstacles, and fire-extinguishing lines are all created or utilized. Due to the risk of higher fire severity, the counterfire method is not executed at the back of the hillsides where slope exceeds 20%. 2
Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation of forests after a fire and prohibition of their use for other purposes after a fire
  • Turkish legislation provides for rehabilitation of these forestlands after forest fire, and strictly prohibits their use for any other purpose, such as agriculture, grazing, or settlement. Primarily, Article 169 of the Turkish Constitution of 1982 (Mestav 2009) orders the reforestation of burned forestlands and prohibits any kind of agricultural or stock-raising activities on these lands. Article 2 of Forest Law No. 6831 (Gençay et al. 2018) states that burned forestlands cannot be regarded as degraded forestlands and authorization to use of the forest purposes outside reforestation cannot be granted for a specific period of time. The penalty for those who commit the crime of occupying forestlands and grazing on burned forestlands is doubled. 4
Enforcement
Legal and administrative measures against prohibited acts and the distribution of responsibility for taking necessary precautions during and after any forest fire
  • According to the Turkish Constitution, a set of rules related to forest fires must be regulated by law. Thus, law enforcement against forest fires is explained in Forest Law No. 6831 in Articles 68 to 76 and 104 to 107, and in Article 110 (Ünal 2010).
• Accordingly, those conscripted to help fight a fire who do not obey, and those who do not comply with a ban on entering forest areas soon after forest fire or during drought, shall have fines imposed on them. One who does not inform the Forest Administration about a forest fire in spite of witnessing it shall be sentenced to imprisonment of up to six months. Lighting a fire within the borders of a forestland except for in permitted areas, dropping flammable material or live cigarettes, and burning stubble and similar vegetative cover at a distance of less than 4 km from a forestland shall be subject to imprisonment of one to three years. Causing a forest fire by carelessness shall be subject to imprisonment of two to seven years. Burning forests deliberately shall be subject to imprisonment of a minimum of ten years, and burning forests for terrorist purposes shall be subject to life imprisonment. In addition to the aforementioned penalties, punitive fines shall be imposed. Law No. 6831 refers to the Turkish Penal Code for certain crimes. Civil servants who do not muster for combat shall be sentenced to imprisonment for neglecting their duty. Damaging any vehicle or equipment that belong to the Forest Administration and are used to combat fires shall also be subject to imprisonment for causing damage to property (Elvan 2014).
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