Forests, habitats that we share with all living things in nature, are the most valuable heritage to passed to the future generations. Recep Ates, Director of Istanbul Forest Region, talked about the important measures for the protection of this valuable heritage, the operation of the Fire Coordination Center, the fire observation towers in Istanbul and the forest assets of Istanbul.
Ateş who stated that there are a high variety of forests on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul due to the climate transition zone and proximity to the neighboring Bosphorus, said "44% of our city consists of forests. While settlements are located in the southern part of our city; forests cover in the northern part of city. Şile, Beykoz, Sarıyer, Çatalca, Arnavutköy, and Silivri are places where our forest assets are concentrated." and added that aside from the natural forest assets such as oak, beech, and hornbeam, pine forests were created via foresting activities started in 1960s.
Ateş who mentioned that forest fires may be attributable to human or natural factors, said "With beginning of summer drought, the decrease of rainfall and the drying of the vegetative residues on the soil, a small fire can trigger a forest fire by first burning the hay and the spreading to the trunks of the trees. Apart from the human factor, fires can break out by natural causes such as lightning. ”
"We have 15 Stationary Fire Observation towers in our city”
Ateş stated that they addressed measures against forest fires measures under three main strategies said that first of all they started preventive training activities before the summer in order to prevent outbreak of fire. Referring to the second part of the measures, Ateş said, "In our city, we have been constantly renewing the fire observation towers with current technology as much as possible. At these points, we try to get the news quickly by minimizing human error and utilizing technology. Our towers, which become operative as of May each year, remain active until the end of October.
We have 15 stationary fire observation towers in our city. At these points, we do 24/7 observation via both our observers and cameras. We also have 13 mobile towers for observation purposes in areas that are out of the sight of stationary towers." and said that they used thermal cameras to take measure against fires that may break out at night.
Talking about the importance of receiving early notice of fire as a last step in the measures taken against forest fires, Ateş said that they directed teams to the fire zone according to the reports received both from the observation towers and Alo 177 Forest Fire Notification Line.
Underlining the fact that there were 37 teams in the city ready to respond to forest fires, Ateş said, "We have a total of 37 teams, including 25 teams equipped with big sprinklers and tanks installed on 17 pickup trucks that are able to move fast and 12 first response teams that work on a 7/24 basis. In addition, according to the information we receive from the teams that arrive at the fire zone and the images that we get from the cameras we send additional teams and helicopters to the area." and added that support teams are sent from the regional directorates of neighboring provinces after the notification of General Directorate of Forestry of Ankara when our teams prove insufficient.
“We are trying to protect the forests of Istanbul in the best way”
The Fire Coordination Center, which is located within the Regional Directorate of Forestry, is a center where the initial information on fires that occur in Thrace are sent, and the operation diagram is drawn. Describing the process carried out at the Fire Coordination Center, Ateş said, "If we summarize the activities carried out here, the aim is to act in an effective and fast manner in line with the information received. The information reaching the center is shared with the General Directorate of Forestry, Istanbul Governor's Office, law enforcement and necessary units. We direct the teams that can reach the location as quickly as possible. Additional force support is also reported here. In addition, from the forest and satellite maps and the onboard vehicle tracking systems we can track where our teams are, and direct our teams via the map according to the notices we receive."
Ates emphasized that they were doing their best to preserve and protect Istanbul's forests and that they carry out their activities in accordance with the principles and procedures of science and technique, and that afforestation efforts are carried out to leave the forests to future generations.
Ateş stated that they planted 22 million saplings in 17 years and added, "We try to maintain the continuity of our forests by planting 2 or 3 million saplings on average a year. Any of our citizens who witness a forest fire or a mistreatment of the forests, they should inform us via the line 177. The forests of Istanbul belong to us all. Let us protect our forests together, use them in a balanced manner and leave a green Istanbul to future generations."