Enforcement of Law and Soil Protection and Land Improvement by TEMA

TEMATurkey 07.10.2015

Environmental Law, Policy, Law on soil protection and management, land management, prevention of soil degradation


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.

Background Story

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.


  • The preperation process of the law started in 1998 and completed in 2000. After 2000, face to face contacts started with ministers, parliament members, party leaders. Due to change in the government and coalition works during the period, there couldn’t be a compromise on the draft law and these issues obstructed the process.
  • Pursuant to articles 13-14 of the “Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement”, it is imperatif to determine the big lowlands and erosion sensitive lands. There was no scientific output concerning the areas
  • There is no umbrella association or governmental corps who is in charge of implementing the law practices. Even if there was a legislative framework, there was no structure that is in charge of execution or control of the laws priorities.
  • 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;

  • Workshops in collaboration with Chambers, Universities and directors on the draft law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement.
  • Campaigns and country-wide petitions by local TEMA representatives for public opinion building on soil management.
  • Broadcast events, such as draft law presentation on TV by TEMA consultants and executives.
  • Compiling the draft law in lead of TEMA consultant Mahir Gürbüz.
  • Lobbying in the National Assembly and president of state levels. Giving briefings to the groups in the National Assembly.
  • Following-up the constitution of local soil protection councils
  • Setting-up the local soil protection councils. Among the members of the local councils, TEMA is represented by its volunteers.
  • Following-up the works of the local councils via support body within TEMA Foundation (in collaboration of consultants, lawyers )


– Universities

– Chambers (Chamber of Turkish Agricultural Engineering)

– Parliamentary groups

– Turkish National Assembly

– Farmers

– Technocrats

– Bureaucrats

– TEMA Representatives

– Local people


The main impact of issuing the law:

  • “The Law on Soil Protection and Land Improvement” is issued by the efforts of an NGO working specifically ob the issue, conservation of soil and land management.
  • TEMA volunteers are included in Soil Protection Councils as representatives which are built up for the enforcement of the law. Hereby, prevent the erroneous investment in erroneous lands and secure the proper usage of soil.
  • Identification of the need for land use planning
  • Determination of big savannahs and erosion sensitive lands
  • Enforcement of soil protection rules within each governorship throughout Turkey.
  • One of the most important features of these rules is that it includes Chamber of Agricultural Engineers and TEMA Foundations national representatives in decision making process on land use in Soil Protection Councils.
  • The Representatives of TEMA have a direct impact on decision making process via councils on soil protection issues.


  • Identify the factors contributing to soil degredation, desertification and misuse of the land,
  • Identify the practical measures necessary to combat and/or mitigate the effects of erroneous land use techniques,
  • Form a unit to promote NGO participation in the decision making process on the conservation, expansion and improvement of soil; by building up Soil Conservation Councils, in the local government level,
  • Strengthening the public relations of related local governments,
  • Endowment of the local people -espcialy the members of TEMA Foundation- with relevant rights, duties and responsibilities to cooperate with the local government structures as stipulated in Article of the law,
  • Raising awareness and ensuring the participation of local people in activities for the implementation of the law,
  • Participation of local TEMA members in the follow-up of administrative cases,
  • Land use according to their using criteria,
  • Define boundaries and areas of big lowlands and erosion sensitive lands,
  • Rehabilitate and upkeep lands,
  • Re-orient private and public lands for transforming them into their using criteria.
  • Within governorships, country-wide Soil Protection Councils are constituted,
  • Within TEMA, a support body called Soil Advocacy Council is established to execute support activities to the representatives. The activities of this council are bind to the councils’ agenda to act through the TEMA view and execute capacity development activities through TEMA representatives.


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

Revised Short Version: One Million Signatures for Soil Conservation – Civil Society Driven Conservation Legislation (in pdf-format – 090914)


Ankara, Turkey

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