We Will Not Surrender Akbelen Forest for Coal

We Will Not Surrender Akbelen Forest for Coal

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Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry ve tarafına İkizköy Çevre Komitesi bu kampanyayı başlattı

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We Will Not Surrender Akbelen Forest

We, the local communities of Milas and Yatağan in Muğla province of Turkey, have been living under the destructive impacts of Yeniköy, Kemerköy, and Yatağan coal-fired power plants and coal mines for four decades. Now the last natural area, Akbelen Forest, with its trees, bushes, birds, thyme, and mushrooms, is under the threat of an expanding open-pit lignite mine. Let’s not surrender Akbelen Forest for coal!

We have been paying the costs of coal for decades

We, the local communities of Muğla villages, were exiled from our homes, were left without land and water, breathed in pollution, got sick and died at young ages over the last 40 years due to electricity production from coal. With our natural habitats being destroyed and climate changing, these heavy costs are imposed not only on us but also on our children and future generations.

They want to extend the lifespan of coal facilities for another 25 years

Although they were to be retired by now, the coal-fired power plants and coal mines in Muğla were privatized in 2014. Now, there are plans to extend their lifespan for an added 25 years, without even conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Nobody asks us

40 years ago, while three power plants were being built and giant coal mine sites were opened in Muğla, no one asked us, the local communities, whether we wanted them or not. Currently, while their lifespans are being extended, again no one is asking us whether we want these investments to last for another quarter-century  at the cost of nature and our lives.

We have been struggling to survive for years

The coal mine, extending uninterruptedly for 15 kilometers and that  has swallowed many of our villages in the last 40 years, reached İkizköy a few years ago.
As dwellers of İkizköy, we are struggling to survive, right next to Yeniköy-İkizköy open-pit lignite mine and 7 kilometers away from Yeniköy Thermal Power Plant. 

For the last two years, we have been fighting for Akbelen Forest, the last remaining olive groves, agricultural areas, and our village, which are under the threat of expanding coal mines. If these lands are sacrificed for coal, we will become homeless, landless; we will lose our agricultural livelihoods. We will have to leave our village and be displaced to the city just like thousands of other villagers of Muğla had to do over the last four decades.

We no longer want to sacrifice our nature and living spaces and give another 25 years of our life to coal. We demand our right to speak for our future!

IMMEDIATELY AND BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE:

We demand;

  • Discontinuation of clearance operations in 740 decares of Akbelen Forest, which is an old and natural red pine forest; which keeps the dust of the mine away from our village, provides us clean air, water, food, and hosts many animal and plant species, especially the birds that are under the Bern Convention protection;
  • Cancellation of the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry signed on 18.11.2020, which grants a mine operation permit in the Akbelen Forest area;
  • A Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted, incorporating the effects of the mine site expansion project within the license area numbered 86541, which also includes the Akbelen Forest, the capacity increase project of the Yeniköy and Kemerköy coal-fired power plants, as well as other coal mines, Yatağan Coal-Fired Power Plant, and other activities in the region such as other mining operations and industrial agriculture;
  • Public consultation on the lifespan extension plans of power plants and coal mines.

Let's decide our future together, in the light of science!

We are confident that if scientific methods are truly employed in the environmental impact assessment, it will not be possible for decision-makers to allow coal plants and mines to operate for another 25 years. We are no longer obliged to coal-fired power plants that are evidently harmful to nature, people, society, and the economy in Turkey, as in the whole world.

Do not burn İkizköy and Turkey down for coal!

İkizköy Environment Committee

NOTES:

  1. Akbelen Forest is an important breeding, foraging, and nesting habitat for a large variety of bird species including those protected under the Bern Convention Appendix II - Strictly protected fauna species, such as Parus major, Sylvia atricapilla, and Sylvia melanocephala. The forest also accommodates plant species like Muscari racemosum which is endemic to the East Meditarranean.  
  2. According to a 2018 study by the Research Association of Rural Environment and Forestry (Turkey), open-pit lignite mining in Mugla is responsible for the destruction of more than 50 thousand decares of land together with all its ecosystem components. %50 of this land was forest land, where the rest of it was mainly  composed of olive groves and agricultural fields. 
  3. Real Costs of Coal Mugla report by CAN Europe states that 12 villages were evacuated for coal mines, either entirely wiped out or relocated. Thousands of people were displaced; they lost their agricultural lands and livelihoods. 
  4. The air pollution caused by Muğla’s three coal-fired power plants is estimated to have been responsible for 45,000 premature deaths from 1982, when the first plant unit began operating in Yatağan, until the end of 2017. If these coal-fired power plants remain operational for the next 25 years, they are expected to cause 5,300 additional premature deaths even if the required investments are made in them in accordance with EU environmental standards.
  5. Yeniköy, Kemerköy and Yatağan coal-fired power plants emitted 360 million tons of CO₂ between 1982 and 2017, and are expected to emit an additional 328 million tons of CO₂ in total if they continue to operate for an added period of 25 years until 2043. 
  6. Turkey reportedly has a high level of unutilized capacity. In 2020, the country’s installed capacity was enough to produce electricity more than twice of the highest electricity consumption, reports the UCTEA  Chamber of Mechanical Engineers
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