Hundreds of trees around the Muradiye Waterfall in the Muradiye district of Van have dried up.
Hundreds of trees around the Muradiye Waterfall, which is located in the Muradiye district of Van and hosts thousands of local and foreign tourists every year, have dried up. Although we can’t find any definitive data on why the trees dry up, the majority of the people living in the area say that they are dry due to thirst. Muradiye District Directorate of Agriculture states that the trees in question have completed their economic life.
Since 2010, there have been two Hydro Electric Power Plants (HES) on the Mahi Stream, which feeds the Muradiye Waterfall.
Muradiye Ayrancılar HEPP, which is stated to be the 272nd power plant of Turkey and the largest power plant in Van, established by the company, causes a decrease in waterfall water with an average electricity production of 124 million 564 thousand 262 kilowatts per hour.
At the same time, it has been observed that there has been a decrease in the water level since the first day of the HEPP’s establishment, and the bed of the waterfall is gradually changing. There are hundreds of poplar trees around Muradiye Waterfall. These poplar trees create a natural area for picnicking around the waterfall, organizing nature trips, relaxing by the water and many other activities.
In Muradiye Waterfall, which was registered as a “Natural Site-Qualified Natural Protection Area and Natural Site-Sustainable Conservation and Controlled Use Area” on May 13, 2023, a deplorable situation awaits the visitors on the walking paths currently stretching between the poplar trees.
Journalist Harun Yavruöztürk, who lives in Muradiye, first determines that the trees between the changing bed of the waterfall are dry. On a walk around the waterfall, Yavruöztürk sees that hundreds of trees have dried up and many dry trees have been cut down.
‘This problem may have been caused by HEPP’
Puppyöztürk, who has made many attempts to get information about the drying of trees in a wetland, explains the process as follows: “About two weeks ago, I came here to visit and take pictures. I noticed that the trees dry out like this. I contacted the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and the District Directorate of Agriculture and tried to find out the reason. The ages of the trees are different from each other, that is, they are not suitable for the definition of having completed their economic life. There is a HEPP structure just ahead, I think there is a problem arising from it, but of course experts need to examine it. However, the plundering of Muradiye Waterfall in this way and its transformation into a ‘Tree Cemetery’ affected me deeply.”
Trying to convey his voice to all the national press and related institutions with the news he has made in the last few days, Yavruöztürk says that 90% of the trees and greenery around Muradiye Waterfall, one of Turkey’s most important waterfalls, have disappeared and been left to its own fate.
Broken trees are dangerous
Stating that the dried trees also pose a risk for the tourists coming to the region, Yavruöztürk said, “Trees break in a strong wind. Villagers nearby collect them as fuel. It is also possible to see many cut tree roots. These were also cut by the people around. Of course, these fractures create a separate danger if large trees of 50-60 years fall on the local people who come here as tourists or pass by.”
Stating that the area in question is a place under the control of the municipality, Yavruöztürk said, “This area is under the responsibility of the municipality and the maintenance of this area should be done by them on a regular basis. The municipality is managed by a trustee and it is necessary to take into account the fact that this area has been observed and operated in this way for a long time.”
The waterfall welcomes thousands of tourists every year.
Photographer Nurhan Yüce, who came to Van from Istanbul to see the Muradiye Waterfall, says the following about the waterfall: “We are not from here, but we loved this place. We started from Adana, Antep and went all the way to Uludere. Our main goal was the inverted tulip, and we found it. It’s been half an hour since he got here. We came to see this waterfall. I liked it very much, it is very beautiful.”
Relevant Institutions state that the problem may be caused by the HEPP.
While the official institutions we consulted for their opinions on the subject stated that they could not give their opinion since a detailed official examination was not carried out in the field; NGOs in Van stated that the problem may have arisen from the HEPP, and they have been making calls about this issue for many years and they will report the final result after a detailed examination.
Translator: Akif Coşkun