Sustainable forest management tightly linked with watershed development

December 4, 2006
TEHRAN – Sustainable forest and tree resources management and watershed development are tightly linked.

Environmentally sustainable development will not be achieved without preventing the damages to the nation’s mountains and ranges, noted an official with Iran’s Forest and Range Organization.

Land degradation, including soils, forests and water resources is considered to be the greatest constraint and threat to sustainable agricultural development in most parts of the country, particularly the northern regions, Mohammad-Ali Hedayati said.

Establishing a green belt at the heights around the mountains and ranges is the only fundamental solution to their protection, he commented warning that the opportunists’ greed towards the forest resources is on the rise.

As a preventive measure, around 26,000 hectares of the rangelands located in the mountainous regions of the northern parts of the nation in Mazandaran Province have been turned into green areas, noted the official during a seminar on the development of the forests of the northern parts of the country.

In the past decades, the rapid population growth put pressure on limited land resources to satisfy people increasing needs for food, forest products and socioeconomic goods have occurred at the expense of forest and woodlands in fragile ecosystems. Deforestation, mining, unsound agricultural practices, global warming, tourism and urbanization are all taking their toll on forests, ranges and watersheds, and putting the supply of fresh water at risk.

In this context, it is widely accepted that sustainable use and management of land resources will only be achieved by adopting a system of improved land, water and vegetation management and utilization that is based on an integrated approach. The critical role that forests and trees have in maintaining regional and local water balances has long been recognized.

Forests and trees play critical role in development of the nation. In fact, trees have the potential to restore degraded land and ecosystems, protect landscape and water resources and dams against siltation and pollution. In urban areas forest and green spaces improve environmental conditions through carbon sequestration and air pollution control. Trees are also attached to symbolic social, religious and cultural values.