At a time when climate change and global warming pose a grave threat to the environment, there is something about solo initiatives when it comes to nature. Hikmet Kaya is an amazing story of the power of one, about how a single person single-handedly transformed barren lands into a forest through decades of dedication.
There is Saravanan of India, an environmentalist who transformed a 100-acre barren tract into a lush green forest over 26 years. There is Jadav Payeng who became a global reforestation hero by growing a 1360-acre forest on Majuli Island, the biggest riverine delta in the world situated in the northeastern region of India. And belonging to this pantheon is an ex-forest officer in Turkey.
This former forest management chief of the Forestry Operations Dept. in northern Turkey transformed a barren tract of barren land, totally devoid of vegetation, into a lush green forest. It is now home to innumerable species of birds, butterflies, and numerous species of mammals and reptiles. Hikmet Kaya is credited with transforming a barren hill into a thriving forest.
Hikmet Kaya started his career in Turkey’s Boyabat District. The Sinop Province, where he worked, is along the Black Sea and became well known for his afforestation endeavors. Throughout his long tenure as the chief of forest management, Hikmet Kaya, along with members of his team, planted over 30M saplings in over 25 hectares of land. He was ably supported by villagers in the region.
Hikmet Kaya Continues His Work Even After Retiring
Hikmet Kaya worked throughout his 25 years in service. He was the Head of Afforestation at the Bobayat Forestry Operations Department in Sinop and focused on afforestation efforts on a barren hill that overlooks Sinop and turned it into a green oasis.
It was in 1978 that Hikmet Kaya started his unique endeavor. He focused his afforestation efforts on the steppes and has not stopped after his retirement and the region has seen an astounding transformation.
The former forest officer feels elated to have turned these areas into lush forests. He appreciates the immense help from villagers in his endeavor. Kaya also took the help of specialized teams to transform the inhospitable land that has benefitted both the local population and innumerable animals, birds, and insects.
The Global Forest Watch, the interactive online forest monitoring & alert system, has reported that Turkey has seen a decrease in its forest cover since 2000 by as much as 5.4%. Hikmet Kaya retired in 2000, but the project continues to thrive, and he is a hero in the region.
A recent picture of Hikmet Kaya taken before the area was transformed by his initiative reveals the extent to which his work has made a difference to the area. Turkey is facing huge desertification and deforestation issues.
Eco-Warriors Like Hikmet Kaya Have Been At The Forefront In Transforming Barren Land
Hikmet Kaya says that transformation has been a source of pride for him. He says that after many years he has been able to ensure that the district has a richness of forest assets, and he aims to continue to do more.
Hikmet Kaya’s achievement has been compared to the amazing achievements of other eco-warriors like Brazilian Sebastiao Ribeiro Salgado, who along with his wife, Leila Wanick, settled down on his childhood farm in Brazil after an international career as a photo-journalist.
Salgado saw that the forests, which once covered 60% of the land, had been reduced to 0.5% and established Instituto Terra, which has helped plant over 3 million trees. He helped bring back the paradise of his childhood to his homeland. As he says, we must pay close attention to our plants and trees and take stock of all the lessons it teaches us so that we get closer to our planet again. The forest man of India, Jadav Payeng has also spoken out about returning the balance of nature and saving the environment. He urged people to plant trees in every free space.
All Image Credits: tohumtoprak