WASHINGTON, June 15, 2023—The World Bank Board today approved $400 million in financing for the Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project, to strengthen the country’s capacity to protect people and forests from wildfires.
The project will help strengthen fire management and increase the resilience of forests and people against wildfires in 14 provinces which are at high risk for wildfires. These provinces are home to about 20 million people, many of whom depend on forests for their livelihood. With its focus on comprehensive and state-of-the-art fire management approaches, the project will also help reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change impacts, conserve and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, and protect and support the well-being and livelihoods of the rural population, including those located in the recent earthquake-affected areas.
“With wildfires posing significant challenges to human lives and ecosystems, this project will work towards creating a more resilient Türkiye, better equipped to mitigate and respond to wildfire incidents which are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change,” said Humberto Lopez, World Bank Country Director for Türkiye.
Like most Mediterranean countries, Türkiye is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Floods, wildfires, storms, and landslides are frequent events. In 2021, Türkiye’s southern and western regions suffered the worst wildfires ever recorded in recent history, which scorched coastal forestland eight times the size of average annual fires, causing deaths and forcing evacuations of hundreds of residents and tourists. The fires also inflicted ecological and economic damage and disruption of communities and businesses. In addition to their direct impacts on Türkiye’s forests and forest villages, many sectors such as the wood industry, tourism, hunting, mining, beekeeping, livestock, as well as health and food security were also affected.
The project will support the Government of Türkiye in strengthening wildfire and forest resilience against the increasing risks of climate change by applying a balanced approach between wildfire suppression and prevention through a coordinated set of activities aimed at strengthening the institutional framework for Integrated Fire Management; increasing readiness for Integrated Fire Management through technology and capacity building; strengthening operational systems for wildfire response; and resilient recovery of landscapes and livelihoods affected by wildfires.
“The Türkiye Climate Resilient Forests Project takes a comprehensive approach to not only reducing the vulnerability of forests and communities to wildfires but, ultimately, building a more resilient and sustainable future,” said Stavros Papageorgiou, one of the World Bank Project Team Leaders.
The World Bank is an important and reliable partner for Türkiye in disaster risk management, to protect people against the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Other World Bank projects currently underway include the Turkey Resilient Landscape Integration Project (TULIP), which promotes resilient landscape integration, and the Türkiye Earthquake, Floods and Wildfires Emergency Reconstruction Project which supports reduction of wildfire hazards by promoting disaster and climate resilience at the municipal level.