Turkey planted over 13 million saplings on Monday as part of a massive tree-planting campaign in hope for a breath for the future in a greener country.
The forestation campaign for a greener Turkey began with the declaration of Nov. 11 by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the National Forestation Day to be marked annually.
The campaign gained wide interest in a very short time and a total of 13,747,708 saplings were donated in a nationwide campaign, surpassing the target of 11,047,430.
"By planting 4.5 billion saplings over the last 17 years, the breath of Turkey’s forests has expanded from 20.8 million hectares to 22.6 million,” Erdogan told a mass tree-planting ceremony in the capital Ankara, referring to the tenure of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
Manisa from the Aegean, the Mediterrenean province of Isparta, eastern Tunceli and Bingol provinces and Edirne in northwestern Turkey topped the list with saplings planted the most.
In the central province of Corum, a group of people worked to set a Guinness World Record for most saplings planted within an hour. With over 300,000 saplings planted in Corum, Turkey is ready to beat Indonesia which holds the world record with 232,647 saplings.
Turkish metropolitan city of Istanbul enjoyed the day in different localities, including the new Istanbul Airport.
According to a statement by the airport operator firm IGA, the airport initiated its efforts as part of a forestation protocol -- 5,000 hectares of forestation in fives years -- signed with the General Directorate of Forestry.
The airport staff supported the campaign with 1,000 hectares of sapling for the first year, with an aim to repeat it every year for the next five years.
The airport will also support Turkey’s national forestation project in other cities, including Ankara.
In Istanbul’s Silivri district, offenders distributed 1,000 saplings to people who visited the courthouse -- with contributions of Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices and Directorates of Probation in Bakirkoy and Silivri districts and Silivri Open Penal Institution.
After the distribution, saplings were planted in the pre-determined area in Canta district.
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and high-level commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces also joined the campaign and planted 1,111 saplings.
Planting saplings at the Turkish Military Academy, they used mixed fertilizer as part of Zero Waste Project -- initiated by Turkey's First Lady Emine Erdogan.
A million saplings were planted in a field consumed by a summer fire in the Aegean province of Izmir.
The fire broke out in August and destroyed some 500 hectares of land, and the area was made ready for plantation by regional forestry directorate in Izmir.
Students, teachers, members of non-governmental organizations, and principles attended the event despite rain.
Students, who came from Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of a project -- called Bosnia and Turkey hand-in-hand for breath for future -- also participated the event.
In Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 240,000 saplings were planted in his hometown.
Cavusoglu joined the event in Alanya district.
By Sibel Morrow and Sena Guler