CHANGING LANDSCAPES AND RURAL LIVELIHOODS: THE CASE OF GERMİYAN NEIGHBORHOOD IN ÇEŞME DISTRICT, TURKEY
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Turkey experienced significant economic and policy shifts in the 1980s with the adoption of a free market economy and the incorporation of neoliberal policies. This shift led to a focus on urban space and the capitalization of urban areas, which contributed to the neglect or even sacrifice of cultural and natural assets, in pursuit of economic development. The Tourism Incentive Law of 1982 and neoliberal development policies facilitated large-scale land investments, which had significant impacts on the country's planning system and the use and transformation of urban and rural spaces (Vuruşkan & OrtaÇeşme, 2009). These developments led to an increase in demand for raw materials, particularly in the Çeşme district where the growing tourism industry and increasing housing projects have resulted in a reliance on mining resources and increased demand for infrastructure development. Urbanization and the development of new infrastructure, which may be intended to promote regional development and create public benefits, can result in land use and land cover change (LULCC). This can lead to increased pressure on natural resources and create new patterns of inequity, as well as the exclusion of certain groups, such as the rural community. This research focused on large-scale land investments and their impacts on LULCC as well as the livelihood strategies of the local/rural community and their responses to these investments and developments using an exploratory case study approach in the Çeşme District. The study included interviews with local authorities to gather information about the developments and investments in the region, as well as a survey that was conducted with the rural community to understand their responses to these new developments. Overall the majority of the rural community stated that they do not think the large-scale investments around their village help regional development. The negative impacts of large-scale investments on the rural community in Çeşme District include the destruction of pasturelands and restriction of access to common areas, noise and visual pollution from wind farms and quarries, environmental pollution from quarries, and the loss of farmlands and occupation of coastal regions due to housing investments, as well as expropriation. These developments have also been associated with a decrease in biodiversity, according to the respondents. Most respondents feel they are not receiving adequate support or resources from authorities to address the challenges they face. The main strategy employed by the rural community against the negative impacts of large-scale investments was to take legal action. This highlights the importance of communities being proactive in protecting their rights and interests when it comes to resource extraction and development projects that may affect them. It may also be helpful for communities to seek support from local, regional, or national organizations or agencies that can help advocate for their rights and provide assistance in navigating the legal and regulatory processes involved in such conflicts.