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Kuzguncuk Vegetable Gardens, Turkey


Kuzguncuk Vegetable Garden or Ilias Vegetable Garden as the locals know it, is a 16,5 decare land located at the heart of Kuzguncuk quarter that has gradually lost its vegetable garden characteristic but is maintained as a green space. Its 300/360 share ratio was transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations in 1966 and the remaining 60/360 share in 1977. There is no clear information regarding this ownership transfer process. The land title is registered as vegetable garden with a shack.

Since 1990, the General Directorate of Foundations attempts to zone Ilias Vegetable Garden for construction. Even though Article 5 of the Bosphorous Building Code numbered 2960 clearly does not permit the construction zoning on gardens of the Bosphorous, an amendment in the plan was realised in 1986 allowing a primary schools construction in a section of the vegetable garden. Following this plan amendment, in 1992 the garden was rented out to Turkey Organ Transplantation Foundation for ten years. The foundation initiates attempts to construct a hospital on the garden land. As a result of Kuzguncuk communitys reaction and struggle, the construction permit which appears as primary school in 1998 plan is requested to be modified as a private primary school. While this procedure is not determined by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Board, the Foundations attempt for drilling in 2000 was prevented by the Kuzguncuk community. As a result of the legal initiatives, the court rejects the construction activity as filed by the Chamber of City Planners and this decision is also accepted by the State Council. The commission neither adopts the Foundations plan restoration. At the end of their ten year rental period, the Foundation does not renew its contract.

Rented out as a nursery until 2011, the plot faces yet another construction attempt of the General Directorate of Foundations. This time it is the construction of a private primary school. Kuzguncuk community starts a campaign against this development as well and it still continues both on legal and public awareness levels. The construction project prepared by the General Directorate of Foundations is at the Council of Monuments decision stage.

The Kuzguncuk community resolutely continues its struggle to prevent the development of Ilias vegetable garden which is their cultural heritage, their breathing ground and unique place of gathering in case of an earthquake.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kuzguncuk Vegetable Gardens, Turkey
Location of conflict:Kuzguncuk, Uskudar, Istanbul
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Establishment of reserves/national parks
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Fruits and Vegetables
Biological resources

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Project area:1.64
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:1986
Company names or state enterprises:Turkish Republic General Directorate of Foundations from Turkey
Relevant government actors:Turkish Republic General Directorate of Foundations, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Bosphorus Development Directorate, Turkish Republic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board Directorate numbered 6
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Association of Kuzguncuk Community, Istanbul Chamber of City Planners

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Trade chambers
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsloss of cultural heritage


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Development of alternatives:Architects from Kuzguncuk have developed an alternative project to that of the General Directorate of Foundations in which the vegetable garden is opened up to the Kuzguncuk communitys use in a variety of aspects. This project can be seen at the following link (Turkish):
This project has been presented to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Board numbered 6.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Even though the conflict is ongoing, the 1992 and 2000 initiatives resulted in two successes. However, it can be observed that this success is temporary. For this reason, necessary preparations are ongoing at the legal level as well as regarding alternative projects in order to achieve a permanent solution.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Bosphorus Building Code numbered 2960, relevant development/construction regulations

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Radikal (Newspaper in Turkish):

Meta information

Contributor:Neset Kutlug on behalf of BOG
Last update18/08/2019