Hayrettin Karaca


This profile was prepared when Hayrettin Karaca was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Hayrettin was the first to identify and publicize soil erosion as a serious threat to Turkey’s environment as well as to its economic and social life. Until then, soil erosion was an issue limited to a few experts in academia who failed to produce practical solutions or to sensitize the government and the public. In addition to being the first to put the issue on the public agenda, Hayrettin was also the first to realize that environmental degradation could not be solved without addressing the human factor in Turkey.

Hayrettin was able to combine this insight on the depth of soil erosion’s causes and effects with new interventions targeting human populations commonly seen as accelerators of soil erosion. He introduced various alternatives to alleviate poverty in rural areas including good agricultural practices, eco-tourism and beekeeping. Hayrettin founded TEMA—the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion and for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats—a vast network that has achieved significant national impact both for the environment and across the social fabric of the country. TEMA, provides livelihood projects along with advocacy and education programs, such as trainings for farmers on soil and technical issues. It also provides awareness-raising activities for all age groups across Turkey.

Hayrettin’s first level of impact has been to make the environment a public issue and demonstrate that a life in harmony with nature is possible. Over time, Hayrettin and his organization also became a vehicle to mobilize people not only to protect nature, but also to experience volunteering and community service for the first time. Starting in kindergartens and organizing at primary, secondary, and higher education institutions, TEMA has delivered training programs and instilled values such as respect and consideration for one’s fellow humans and natural habitat in individuals of all ages. In this sense, it has become more than an organization; today, it is a strong and countrywide network of individuals, ideals and values. In recent years, TEMA has expanded its programs to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, where large communities of Turkish migrants are present.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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