For the first time in Turkish history, a law on conservation of soil and land management is issued by the efforts of an NGO; which is the “The Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement”. TEMA Foundation together with its volunteers from all parts of the society actively lobbied for the approval of this law by the parliament. These activities include a petition campaign with over 1 million signatories, communication efforts to raise public awareness on the issue through media, seminars, and visits. TEMA was not only active in the lobbying activities, but also leaded the process by drafting this law through it’s volunteers and experts. Enforcement of this law has been a long and severe process and all levels of organizations actively involved in this process. The participation of universities, chambers and NGOs in the decision making process of the conservation, expansion and improvement of soil by building up the Soil Conservation Councils hastened the process in the local governmental level. Based on the gathered information, an action plan is developed with the objective to include all levels of organizations and TEMA representatives in the process.
Brief History and Background
TEMA Foundation aims to raise public awareness of environmental problems, specifically soil erosion and deforestation. Soil protection being one of the most important focus areas TEMA implements model projects to prevent soil erosion and deforestation, runs education programs on soil. Through partnership with governments, other NGOs, universities, public and private sector, TEMA achieved important milestones in this process.
Of course all these efforts for the protection of soil should be supported by a soil protection law. Since the establishment of Turkish Republic, there have been many legal regulations on soil and agricultural lands. However, until the day, there has not been issued any specific law on soil protection and land improvement. On the other hand The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was ratified by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey with law number 4340 on 11 February 1998.Within this framework, many initiatives have been launched and undertaken for the implementation of the Convention both in governmental and institutional levels.
In lack of such a juridicial arrangement, the attempts on finding solutions to threats on soil habitats were being bootless. The need of such a legal arrangement in determining big savannahs and erosion sensitive lands revealed the need of this law. In order to close this gap, a “Draft Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement” is prepared for planning the conservation of soil and land management in Turkey. The draft law is submitted to the 9th and 10th President of Turkish Republic, President of Turkish Grand National Assembly to the parliamentary groups in the national assembly to be enforced.
The draft Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement was prepared in order to cope with the effects of desertification, prevent land degradation and ensure land management in lead of TEMA Foundation. “Draft Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement” was prepared in collaboration with related governmental bodies, universities, chambers and NGOs. The draft law pass to the parliament as public bill in 2004 and become a law in July 2005, after discussed in the plenary comittee.
Reactions against draft law coming from business and industry groups.
Identification of the key partners to the discusions at national level for their participation in the preparation of the draft law;
– Chambers (Chamber of Turkish Agricultural Engineering)
– Parliamentary groups
– Turkish National Assembly
– TEMA Representatives
– Local people
The main impact of issuing the law:
Lessons learned (strength & weaknesses)
Gaps and weakness on execution of the law
Transferability (=potential for replication)
The constitution of an equivalent of local soil protection councils is targeted also within law on graze land rehabilitation process.
Website TEMA: www.tema.org.tr
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