Known as the “green homeland,” Antalya, the western touristic hub of Türkiye where 57% of the territory is covered by forests, is meticulously monitored against wildfires through artificial intelligence-controlled cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and 42 observation towers.

Last year’s count of 37 wildfire observation towers in the city has risen to 42 this year, with new towers established in remote areas away from residential zones.

Staff stationed in towers on dominant peaks began their shifts in May and will continue surveillance until the end of October, using binoculars to watch over the forests.

Personnel stationed in towers located on peaks inaccessible by road promptly spot wildfires and report them to the operations center. Firefighting trucks and aircraft are dispatched from there to extinguish the flames before they spread.

Zafer Derince, the regional director of forestry in Antalya, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Antalya is one of Türkiye’s most fortunate provinces in terms of forested areas.

Derince reported that the city hosts 1.18 million hectares of forests, with a per capita forest area of 4.7 square meters (50.59 square feet), exceeding the national average.

Highlighting the protection of vast forested areas through 42 observation towers, Derince stated: “From May to the end of October, our staff stands guard around the clock. They continuously monitor the forests and direct our smart cameras from the wildfire operations center, determining our intervention strategy against potential fires.”

Emphasizing the critical role of early intervention in firefighting, Derince added: “Observation towers are indispensable for early intervention. The staff here tirelessly keep watch day and night, ensuring the safety of our forests.”

Abdullah Toykara, 42, stationed at Kayrak Observation Tower in the habitat of fallow deer in Düzlerçamı, recounted that his father also served at the same tower for years.

Entering the tower at the age of 2, Toykara said: “I grew up in this tower. After my father retired, we left the tower. I took over the duty 10 years ago. Since then, I have been taking care of our forests as my father’s legacy, watching over them like my own eyes.”

Toykara, who has detected numerous wildfires early during his service, preventing them from spreading, remarked: “I work alone in the tower for 24 hours at a time. My eyes are constantly on the forested areas until I pass the duty to my colleague. I am entrusted not only with the trees but also with the lives of the animals here.”

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