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Fire experts offer technical input at fire management workshop in Turkey

TURKEY — Donovan Lee, district fire management officer for Region 5, and Renee Jack, fire operations supervisor for Region 6, were in Turkey from January 14 to 22 working with the Turkish General Directorate of Forestry on fire management training. The team visited Turkey’s Antalya Fire Training Facility to exchange information about Forest Service fire training facilities and firefighter training curriculum with a focus on fire management strategies in Mediterranean-type ecosystems.

The team participated in a three-day international fire management workshop for Mediterranean ecosystems, delivering presentations and sessions on fire suppression, prevention, training, technology and restoration for 100 participants from five countries in the region. Mediterranean forests are extremely susceptible to fire, and changing climatic conditions cause longer and hotter fire seasons.

Photo: A group of people in hard hats and safety vests poses together with a mountain range in the background.
Workshop participants from four Mediterranean basin countries visit a forested area south of Antalya, Turkey, that was burned in a wildfire in September 2017. Forest Service photo.

On the last day of training, the group conducted an extensive field visit to recently burned areas in Turkey to discuss post-fire rehabilitation on the landscape. Each country shared its approaches to immediate and longer term rehabilitation, especially for areas on the urban-wildland interface. Lee and Jack shared the Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response program approaches to curb erosion and protect life, property and water quality after fire.

Turkey has a long history of forest management that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. For over 100 years, the Turkish government has worked on dry land conservation through shrub and tree planting and watershed management. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world to have a positive net growth in forest cover, and timber production remains an important commodity for the government. The Turkish General Directorate of Forestry, under the Ministry of Forests and Water Affairs, is responsible for managing forest resources and has a workforce of roughly 40,000 employees; 26 percent of the land area is forested. Forest products also provide supplemental income and fuel to rural communities.

Workshop participants represented government agencies, non-government organizations and universities. The visit was coordinated by the International Programs office.