Turkey’s Taksim square protest flared up last week when police took drastic measures to clear activists from Gezi Park- slated for destruction to make way for yet another shopping center. But that’s not the only unsustainable project the government is pursuing in the name of economic growth. We list 5 of the major ones. These five put money before the well being of both people and nature.
Turkey has plans to clear 4.1 million acres of forest and demolish 6.5 million buildings throughout the country in order to make space for more commercial buildings, shopping centers, residential complexes, luxury hotels and other development projects. But outside investment is essential to such rapid growth, which is why the Turkish government reformed their property laws (we report here) to make it easier for foreigners to purchase and develop land. This change has opened Turkey to an explosion of new development projects that put whole communities at risk.
It’s impossible to talk about a list of unsustainable development projects in Turkey without taking a quick look at Taksim Square (read our report here)- one of the last remaining green spaces left in Istanbul. Despite great opposition from the local populace, the government established plans to replace this precious urban park with a new shopping mall, roadways and tunnels, a courtyard and a tiny patch of grass.
The Ilısu Dam for hydro-electric power and currently under construction in Turkey is expected to vastly transform life along the Tigris River and not in a good way. Green Prophet writer Julia Harte is currently tracking those impacts as part of a trip funded by a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant. The Ilısu Dam is the biggest hydroelectric dam currently under construction in Turkey, Julia wrote in an earlier post, though it is not the only one — “18 have so far been built under the scope of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), a massive development program approved by the Turkish government in 1982,” she says.
Meanwhile, the UN issued a report condemning Turkey’s Tigris and Euphrates River hydroelectric dams for violating the human rights of downstream countries, including Iraq.
Green Prophet writer Laurie said that the only thing sustainable about the 44 story LEED Renaissance Tower slated for construction in Istanbul is its zip code. Under the guise of LEED certification, the 606 foot tower soars above its surrounding neighborhood, potentially destroying the very fabric of this ancient city.
Not only will it require “a river to clean” due to all the glass, but a lot of interior lighting will create light pollution and consume a great deal of energy. IE. This building is not sustainable at all.
Turkey’s transportation ministry is planning to build “the world’s largest airport,” (as we report here) but in order to do so, they must first clear cut nearly a square kilometer of pristine forest on Lake Terkos near the Black Sea. In other words, 658,000 trees representing ten different species will be sacrificed to build the new airport, is expected to serve up to 1.5 million passengers annually.
These five ongoing projects in Turkey demonstrate a sort of governmental divorce from the people whose lives depend on healthy natural resources.