Forestry and Fisheries

Forestry and Fisheries

Forestry contributes little to the economy, but it holds potential for future development. In the early 1990s, Turkey's forests covered an estimated 20.2 million hectares, or 201,990 square kilometers (26 percent of the land area). Official statistics indicate that forests have doubled in size since 1950; the figures do not reflect actual growth in forested areas but rather continuing survey efforts and the inclusion of less productive wooded areas under the jurisdiction of the forestry administration. The most productive lumber area is the Black Sea region, followed by central, western, and southern Anatolia, where mostly pine wood is produced. The forests in the eastern part of the country are in poor condition and yield little besides firewood. Many forests are overmature because of poor management and infrequent cutting, and thus only about 20 percent of the total forested area is commercially exploitable.

By the mid-1950s, the state had taken over all forest areas from private owners. Compensation was largely in the form of access to fuel wood at low prices. The one-third of the rural population that lives in or near forests includes many of the country's poorest families. The bulk of their income comes from farming; forest products provide supplemental income and fuel. The main objective of forest management is control of traditional logging and grazing rights; the lack of alternative fuel supplies makes it impossible to stop illegal wood harvests in state forests.

The General Directorate of Forestry in the Ministry of Forestry has assumed responsibility for logging and reforestation operations and for reducing erosion. Whereas wood production has been substantially below potential, partly because of a lack of equipment and roads, reforestation efforts increased Turkey's wooded area by about 2 percent between 1977 and 1981. During the early 1980s, annual wood production averaged 5.2 million cubic meters of lumber. By 1991 production had risen to about 6.5 million cubic meters.

Despite the country's long coastline and large freshwater bodies, fishing is an underdeveloped industry. The Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara constitute the main fishing grounds. The tonnage of the fishing fleet has increased, but in the early 1990s it still included about 7,000 traditional boats, some 1,500 of which lacked motors. The annual catch rose from around 430,000 tons in 1981 to about 625,200 tons in 1988, but declined to about 365,000 tons in 1991. Frogs' legs, snails, shrimp, and crayfish are exported to Europe.

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