Public planting 11M trees for greener Turkey: President Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plants the first sapling to kick-start the "Breath for the Future" mass tree plantation event, Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 11, 2019. (AA Photo)

By planting millions of young trees, the nation is working to foster a new lush green Turkey, said the nation's president on Monday.

The public is planting 11 million saplings today, Nov. 11 at 11.11 a.m. local time (0811GMT), in the hope of breath for the future in a greener Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a mass tree-planting ceremony in the capital Ankara.

"By planting 4.5 billion saplings over the last 17 years, the breadth of Turkey's forests has expanded from 20.8 million hectares to 22.6 million," he added, referring to the tenure of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

By doing so, Turkey has cut the amount of land lost annually to erosion by over two-thirds, from 500 million tons to 154 million tons.

Erdoğan said that he hopes such planting ceremonies on 11-11 at 11.11 a.m. will become an annual event for the Turkish public, something made possible by his declaration of a yearly National Forestation Day on today's date.

"Our nation is making history in forestation, greening, and protecting nature," he said, praising the public's enthusiastic participation in tree-planting ceremonies nationwide.

Decrying recent forest fires set by the terrorist PKK/YPG in Turkey in such picturesque places as Izmir, Antalya, and Mugla, Erdoğan said the terror group cares nothing about the environment.

Erdoğan stressed that the government is working to protect the air, water, and soil at a time when global warming and climate change are making headlines worldwide.

"By saying 'breath for the future', beyond [only] planting a sapling, we mean our resolve to preserve a strong country for our children in all respects," he said.

Turkey's Agriculture and Forestry Ministry launched the Breath for the Future campaign in late October.

The ministry will plant the saplings on behalf of people who adopted them online. So far, 13 million trees have been adopted.

Besides the government, a number of NGOs have also joined the drive.

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