Hikmet Kaya has proven that good intent and hard work can pay off.
The retired chief of Turkish forest management stood proudly in front of the arid lands that he and his team transformed into a lush forest. He started his career in the town of Sinop in 1978 and when he retired 19 years later, his legacy continued to grow literally.
In collaboration with his team and the villagers, he brought and planted 3,000,000 plants during his tenure. Long after his retirement, these trees continued to grow; and now this arid land has undergone an incredible transformation. During 19 years of afforestation work, Kaya never ceased to work. And 41 years after he started this ambitious afforestation project, he went back to the now lush earth with an image of the once sterile environment, highlighting the enormous difference that there is in the landscape. Needless to say, he admits to being quite satisfied with the results.
It sets an example for the rest of the country. According to Global Forest Watch, Turkish forest cover has declined by 5.4% since 2000. Deforestation has been the main reason for the decline, so contributing to its reversal is critical.