Turkish Legislations Related to Watershed Management

Even if there is not a direct mention to the “watershed management” in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, which is still in force, there are some important issues about the important elements of the watershed as: water, forest, land, use of natural resources, agricultural activities and other subjects.
According to the article 44 of the Constitution “the soil protection, its development and preventing the loss with erosion” and giving lands to villagers, who are the most important partners of the watershed, are ensured under provisions. The Constitution’s article 169 is related to forests and the article 170 is related to the “forest villagers”.
“The integrated participatory watershed projects” mention took place in its clearest form in the 58th article of the Forest Law number 6831 rewritten in 2003. This article include the provision saying that “Activities of afforestation, erosion and flood control, prevention of avalanches and landslides, conservation and development of ecosystems and the improvement of people’s living conditions living in watersheds, on watershed basis, are applied with integrated projects prepared under the coordination of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry jointly with the related institutions”.
Law on Waters No.831 dated 1926, is still in force with several changes. This Law contains particularly provisions related on how to deploy available drinking water resources but general purposes are not taking place. In order to overcome this deficiency the preparations for a new Water Law are ongoing. In the framework of this Bill still being discussed in the Parliament Commissions:
• To go for a restructuration in the Water Management constituted of “High Council of Water Management, Water management Coordination Committee, Watershed Board of Directors, State Water Management Coordination Committee,
• Preparation of watershed management plans and flood management plans,
• In addition, it is aimed to authorize the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs for the management coordination of water resources on the river basin basis, including wastewaters.
The foundation laws of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, the Ministry of Food and, Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, the Soil Conservation and Land Use Law and the Pasture Law give place to important purposes about “watershed management”.
Many article of the “Decree Law related to the Organizations and the Duties of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs dated of the 4th of July 2011, are related to watershed management and waters.
According to that;
• According to “the Decree’s 2nd article the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs function is to “Create policies related to the sustainable use and the conservation of water resources, coordinate the national water management”
• According to the 7th article, the General Directorate for Combating Desertification and Erosion is responsible : “With the aim of soil conservation and the natural resources improvement; on watershed integrity basis, combating desertification and erosion, realization of integrated rehabilitation plans and projects with avalanche, landslide and flood control, monitoring the application, support these activities on a project basis, determination of policies and strategies related to these works and procedures, ensure the cooperation and coordination between relevant institutions and organizations” and “making on national and regional plans for the development of watershed and determine policies and strategies.”
• According to the 8th article the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks is responsible of: “the conservation, improvement of forests sources, streams, lakes, ponds and wet lands and sensitive areas”
• According to the 9th article the General Directorate of Water Management is responsible of; “preparation, to make prepare the watershed management plans on watershed basis, to carry out legislative activities related to the integrated river basin management, to do the necessary coordination related to water resources allocation, on sectorial basis, accordingly to the river basin management plans.

Accordingly, the three principal units of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs are also assigned on issues related to watershed and water. In addition the 21st article of the Decree with the “National Wet Land Commission” and the “Water Commission” has been established.
On the other hand, we can see also that the connected units of the General Directorate of Forestry, the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works and Water Institute of Turkey have functions related to watershed and water.
The General Directorate of Forestry is charged of “making and implementing integrated watershed projects”. The Soil Conservation and Watershed Rehabilitation Department of this General Directorate is responsible is charged of;
• “Obtaining a maximum amount of water of quality from watersheds, prevent erosion, control the torrents, avalanches and floods, to be in cooperation with the relevant institutions for the conservation of the soil, water and plant balance , and do and make do the works and procedures required by the watershed rehabilitation master plan prepared in a participatory approach, to put into practice the integrated watershed rehabilitation projects and monitoring, evaluating the investments taking place in the plan, and to report to the relevant units the projects information and when required, to assure the realization,
• Carrying out the works on combating desertification,
• In forest lands or fields that will be taken into forest regime affected by erosion; stop the soil erosion and sedimentation, control the floods and torrents, make or make-make erosion control works in water collecting watersheds with the aim of preventing the avalanches and landslides in watersheds of streams, creeks and rivers,
• Making or make-make rehabilitation works in forests, on the edge of forests and on rangelands in the upper limit of forests,
• Combating erosion in order to conserve the soil in the mountainous areas, to improve water resources and to establish and develop the forest ecosystem, and to do the required works.
When these articles are analyzed, we can see that the following issues: watersheds, integrated watershed rehabilitation, water catchments, mountainous areas are taking place with the most tidy manner within the functions of the Soil Conservation and Watershed Rehabilitation Department of the General Directorate of Forestry.
According to the 2nd article of the “Decree on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock” number 639, in addition to its other duties, it has been appointed for the “rural development, conservation of soil and water resources” also.
According to the 7th article of the “Decree on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization” published on the 4th of July 2011 in the Official Gazette, the General Directorate of Spatial Planning is also authorized in watershed planning. This General Directorate is appointed to “Determine the procedures and principles regarding the construction planning and all kind and scale of landscaping plans including those in watershed and regional basis, making landscaping plans on watershed and regional basis, and have make and approve these works and to ensure the realization and the supervision of the implementation of these plans.
The Soil Protection and Land Use Law, number 5403, published in the Official Gazette the 19th July 2005 includes matters related to watershed. According to the 15th article of this Law entitled “determination and protection of erosion sensitive areas”, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock is charged of:
• Determining the erosion sensitive areas, to promote the preparation of land use projects for these areas,
• Taking the necessary measures in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and relevant public institutions and organizations in areas exposed to the desertification where we can see land degradation due to various reasons as climate change and human activities in arid, semi-arid and low rainfall areas,
• Making regulations for determining the principles and procedures relating to the identification and protection of erosion-sensitive areas.
With the Prime Ministry circular number 2012/7 published in the Official Gazette of the 20th March of 2012 the “Water Management Coordination Committee” was constituted. In the integrated watershed management of the “National Watershed Management Strategy (2014-2024)” published in the Official Gazette of the 4th of July 2014 and entered into force, has become a new milestone for the “awareness and training” of the decision-makers.
Some of the legislation examined in the framework of this report is given in the table below.
Main Turkish Legislation about Watershed Management
Order Name of the Legislation/Article/Explanation
1 Constitution/44-Erosion/169-Forest/170-Forest Dependent Villagers
2 6831- Forest Law
3 831 Law on Water
4 Draft Law on Water- Being discussed in Parliament Commission
5 645- “Decree Law related to the Organizations and the Duties of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs dated of the 4th of July 2011
6 Decree on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock” number 639
7 644 -“Decree on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization” published on the 4th of July 2011
8 The Soil Protection and Land Use Law, number 5403, published in the Official Gazette the 19th July 2005
9 Prime Ministry circular number 2012/7 published in the Official Gazette of the 20th March of 2012 the “Water Management Coordination Committee
10 “National Watershed Management Strategy (2014-2024)” published in the Official Gazette of the 4th of July 2014

Letters for Future