Kurdish students look for solutions to revive forests in Northern Kurdistan

Daristan, a student-run group, is set to organize its first event on April 19 where students will re-plant trees in Mount Ararat, an area where the fertile forest percentage is zero.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish students from different universities across Northern Kurdistan, also known as Bakur, are on a mission to raise awareness about the issue of deforestation.

The Turkish Forest Ministry recently released a report which indicated that most Kurdish cities in Turkey have the least amount of viable forests in the country.

According to the Ministry’s 2018 report, the city of Agri has one percent of forestry left, but zero percent of it is fertile. Other Kurdish cities such as Igdir, Van, Mardin, Kars, Hakkari, and Diyarbakir also have very limited forest percentile compared to the rest of the country.

The Kurdish students from Bogaziçi University, Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul University, and Galatasaray University founded a group called Daristan (land of trees) which aims to find solutions to the problem.

“Whether it is from the conflicts between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] and the Turkish state or irresponsible consumption by the locals, Daristan is looking to find a cause as to how the Kurdish region lost its forests,” one of the members, who asked to remain anonymous in the report, stated.

Daristan also aims to educate the young generation about Kurdish causes by integrating students from different cities and universities, its spokesperson Ahmed Zeytin explained.

Zeytin said the group was founded to raise awareness about environmental and social problems which the members have learned through education and their own consciousness.

Despite the financial problems the student-run group faces, Daristan is set to organize its first event on April 19 where students will re-plant trees in Mount Ararat, an area where the fertile forest percentage is zero.

Kurdish students living in western parts of the country, as well as 20 high school students from Agri, will plant trees near Ahmadi Khani’s tomb, a Kurdish poet, writer, and intellectual whose most famous work is the Kurdish love story “Mem and Zin.”

According to members of Daristan, the event will educate young participants about Kurdish intellectuals from the region, such as Khani, Ihsan Nuri Pasha, and Shakiro.  

The members say the event will also build awareness about the homeland and bring the problems in the city as well as in the Greater Kurdistan to light.

The organization plans to hold similar projects across other Kurdish cities in the future. 

Zeytin said Daristan organized the event to reach several targets and for many purposes. “The most important one is to urge students who are in a different stage of their lives to take responsibilities and embrace the problem in a world that they want to change,” he stated,

Bahadin Hawar Kerboranî, a graduate student from the University of Chicago, who focuses on Kurdish history, reminded that the region was once full of forests.

Kerboranî emphasized that Daristan’s projects are an important example of how Kurdish youth are consciousness of their ancestral land.

“Historically, the Serhad region of Kurdistan (Kars, Agri, Erzurum, Van, Igdir, Batman) used to be very green and covered in forests,” he explained. 

“Sharaf Khan’s ‘Sharafname’ from the 16th century and the works of Mela Mahmudê Bayazîdi from the 19th century provide significant information about the activities of Kurds in this forested area.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany