University asked to evict Istanbul’s sole botanical garden
Istanbul’s sole botanical garden will be evicted as the 17 decares of land has been allocated to Istanbul’s mufti to use as an office, daily Sözcü reported on July 1.
The Istanbul University Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden, which is one of Turkey’s oldest such gardens, was established by German Professor Alfred Hilbron in 1935 who was invited to the country by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey.
The botanical garden is home to more than 5,000 different plant species.
In fact, the botanical garden had been allocated to the country’s top religious body, the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), back in 2015 which in return will hand over the property to the office of Istanbul’s mufti.
The office of the Sheikh ul-Islam, the most senior Islamic figure, was located on this very land plot during the Ottoman Empire, which is why the garden was allocated to the Religious Affairs Directorate, according to the newspaper.
“This is a national treasure that should be spared. The office of the mufti could be moved anywhere but if we move out of this land, all our plants will die,” said Professor Muammer Ünal from the department of botany at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Sciences.
Ünal warned that if the garden is moved, 400 types of trees and 5,000 types of plants will die.
“It is home to very rare plant species. The 14,878-square-meter garden is also used by students. Classes will be affected,” he added.