The decision to temporarily station a firefighting helicopter supplied by Turkey to North Cyprus has been met with criticism in some quarters. The demand is for the TRNC to have its own firefighting aircraft.
Former Director of the Forestry Department and President of the KEMA Foundation, an environmental agency, İrfan Tansel Demir said that “palliative solutions are not the answer”.
Demir said, “This country now needs a helicopter that will respond to one or more emergency situations.”
In the last 25 years, there have been three major forest fires, one in the Beşparmak Mountains in 1995, one in Yeşilırmak in 1998 and one in the forest area between Tepebaşı and Kalkanlı in 2020. In the last two major fires, a firefighting helicopter was deployed from Turkey.
However, thousands of acres were burned in both fires. The former forestry department director said that a helicopter deployed from Turkey takes 24 minutes to reach North Cyprus.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Emirali Deveciler, said that according to an agreement with Turkey, when weather conditions indicated, a helicopter would be sent from Turkey to be deployed for firefighting. He said: “What we are trying to do here is to reduce the risk of wildfire, so that forest fires are extinguished earlier”.
The helicopter will be stationed in the Nicosia Industrial Zone and deployed when needed.
The former director of the forestry department said “What we want is a helicopter that will intervene in one or more emergency situations in this country. For example, we need helicopters to be used in patient transportation, accidents at sea, fires and other natural disasters. ”
Noting that it is a known fact that there will always be outbreaks of fire in the country, Demir said, “The important thing is to be effective in responding to the fire.” He added that there is a need for aircraft, especially firefighting helicopters or firefighting aircraft, to combat large fires, and that the helicopter is suitable for the terrain.
Demir emphasized that politicians should now make a decision on this issue and stated that North Cyprus must acquire its own helicopter for the protection of forests and the environment.