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Turkey Forest Villages: Socioeconomic study of forest villagers to better understand the causes of out-migration, forest dependence and poverty


In Turkey, forest villagers constitute a significant proportion of the country’s poor and are viewed as an important resource for managing forests. Similarly, forests provide the villagers with an important source of direct employment, and the supply of subsistence goods and services. Over the past 35 years, migration to urban areas has reduced the population of forest villages from 18 to 7 million—a level that forest authorities consider critically low to adequately manage upland ecosystems sustainably.

In addition, many of the migrants were of working age, leaving the work of properly managing the forests and pastures to the remaining population that now consists of the old and/or very young.  However, the declining rural populations and the changing demographics of the villages frequently lead to issues such as the overgrazing of livestock near settlements; increased use of fire for managing pastures, with increased risks of uncontrolled burning; ecological changes in the habitat area that may threaten endangered species; and a decline in important forest maintenance activities, such as tree thinning.


This activity aims to inform forest policy through a survey of forest villagers on forest dependence, poverty, and migration in Turkey. The survey will seek to determine how forest villagers are dependent on forests, pastures, and forest services (such as non-timber forest products) for their income, subsistence and wellbeing. In addition, the study will investigate whether forests represent a pathway out of poverty (or not), and some of the specific determinants of migration.


The surveys under this activity have been completed. Findings from the survey were incorporated into the Forest Policy Note which acts as the main document reflecting the dialogue with GDF. Plans are underway to disseminate the approach, survey development and the final survey report, first to GDF, and then to the wider audience of interest. 

Ultimately, GDF will use the findings and recommendations from the survey report in their new 5-year Forest Strategy (2017-2021). It is anticipated that some of the recommendations may be used to develop a forestry operation in Turkey. This discussion will follow the final workshop anticipated to be in February, 2017.

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Last Updated : 10-12-2017