Hayrettin Karaca, born in 1922, built a successful textile business. However, in the 1970s, as he traveled across Turkey he became very concerned about the environmental degradation that he saw, especially the soil erosion. Hayrettin realized he could not remain silent and began to document the situation and warn authorities and the public about the threats facing Turkey’s natural environment.
In 1980, Hayrettin established an arboretum on his land in Yalova, which today holds over 14,000 species and subspecies of trees, and 3,800 herbaceous plants and perennials. The Karaca Arboretum has become the in situ breeding ground of endangered plant species endemic to Turkey and is open to the public.
In 1992, together with Nihat Gökyigit, Hayrettin founded the TEMA Foundation to raise public awareness of environmental problems — specifically soil erosion, deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change.
Today TEMA is one Turkey’s leading environmental NGOs with over 460,000 volunteers across the country. TEMA has planted more than ten million seedlings and launched numerous public campaigns to influence the practices of government and business on sustainable rural development, reforestation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management.
Hayrettin, considered the ‘grandfather’ of the Turkish environmental movement, has received a number of awards for his work, including the UNEP 500 in 1992, the Eminent Services Award of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1998 and the Right Livelihood Award in 2012.
Anatoly Lebedev began his career in environmental journalism in the 1970s. In 1989 he led a successful media campaign against a construction project that threatened the territory of indigenous people and Siberian tigers in the Ussuri Forest.
Mr. Lebedev”s work with environmental group, “Taiga,” resulted in a national logging ban on cedar forests from the Supreme Soviet Council of the USSR. Soon after, he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Primorskiy Krai regional parliament where he oversaw a commission on environmental protection and resource use. In that capacity, he passed regional legislation on forest management, wildlife management, indigenous rights and protected territories, and helped keep national parks from destruction by illegal logging.
In 2000, Mr. Lebedev was awarded Honorable Environmentalist of Russia for his efforts in promoting indigenous rights, biodiversity preservation and his support of local environmental journalists through the “Bureau of Regional Outreach Campaigns” (BROC). He also produced the first regional environmental TV show, “Preserved,” and the quarterly magazine “Ecology and Business,” which has been a key tool for environmental education and advocacy over RFE‐Siberia.
Mr. Lebedev remains highly active in local forest communities, analyzing models and impacts of illegal logging and timber trade, which rose in the RFE during the mid 1990s. He has written analytical reports on the Asian timber marketing collaboration with international organizations such as, IUCN, WWF and U.S. based NGOs.
To date he is consulted by journalists and international organizations on issues concerning the environment, forestry, illegal logging, conservation and sustainable communities in Asian Russia.