Thousands years old Hevsel Gardens face destruction

Hevsel Gardens, which are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, face destruction due to rubbish, debris, illegal construction and sand quarries. Selma Aslan of the TMMOB called on the public and the authorities to protect the historical heritage.


 Amed – Located in Amed’s Sır district, Hevsel Gardens, which are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Tigris River resist the policies of plunder and destruction that have been going on for years. Having many living species and ecological richness, the gardens were zoned for construction after the process in 2015. Illegal construction, the industrialization of agriculture, the gradual decrease of forest areas and sand quarries on the Tigris River destroy the gardens.

8,000-year-old Hevsel Gardens

The Hevsel Gardens, also known as a hidden bird sanctuary, hosts approximately 189 bird species. In 2015, UNESCO listed the Hevsel Gardens as a World Heritage Site along with Sur’s historical walls. In 2016, the area where the gardens are located was declared a 'special project zone' which paves the way for construction works. Nowadays, heavy equipment and trucks ravage the gardens.

‘Destruction started after the area was depopulated’

 Selma Aslan, Co-chair of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) Diyarbakır Branch, said that the Hevsel Gardens must be protected in order to be passed down to the next generations. Pointing out that the Hevsel Gardens have been left unprotected since the area was depopulated after the clashes that took place in Sur.

Transition from traditional agriculture to industrialized agriculture

Stating that the changes in the gardens first started in agriculture, Selma Aslan said, “Since the transition from traditional agriculture to industrialized agriculture, the agriculture in the Hevsel Gardens has become standardized. This endangers the lives of the living creatures in the gardens. On the one hand, hundreds of bird and plant species have been disappearing, on the other hand, the unhealthy products of industrialized agriculture have been threatening ecosystem.”

‘The number of illegal constructions increases’

Reporting that no measures have been taken regarding the illegal constructions increasing day by day in the Hevsel Gardens, Selma Aslan said, “Recently, the number of illegal constructions in the area, where Hevsel Gardens is located, has been increasing. The devastation level in the area is increasing day by day. The university (Dicle University) has been selling its lands for years. There is an area opened to construction by the university in Hevsel Gardens. We keep filing appeals against the areas opened to construction works. We try to raise our voices against the devastation and ecological destruction in the Hevsel Gardens.”

‘Culture and history must be preserved’

Selma Aslan said that the illegal constructions and sand quarries pose a threat to the Hevsel Gardens, “The Hevsel Gardens are currently in the list of UNESCO; however, if the devastation in the gardens continues, UNESCO may delist the gardens. The only thing that we must do is to protect the gardens. If we want to pass the Hevsel Gardens down to the next generations, people, NGOs and the authorities should protect this historical heritage. Culture and history must be preserved. We have to protect the heritage left to us.”