Burned forests not to be open for construction: Turkish minister

Charred forestland on Turkey's Aegean coastline will not be opened up for construction, the country's environment and urbanization minister said on Tuesday.

Murat Kurum's remarks came after fires swept across 500 hectares (over 1,200 acres) of land in Izmir since Sunday.

The fires erupted in the Milas and Bodrum districts of the Muğla province, as well as the Karabağlar and Urla districts of Izmir.

"By the year 2023, we will increase the amount of protected areas in our country to 17%," Kurum told reporters, adding that the government hopes to increase the amount of green space per capita from 7-8 square meters (75-86 square feet) to at least 15 square meters (161 square feet).

"So it is by no means possible for these areas to be turned into barren territories or be zoned for construction," he added.

Firefighters in Izmir are trying to contain the blaze at 12 different points with dozens of helicopters and hundreds of water trucks.

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