Law adopted on selling national land area may endanger environment

February 20, 2018 - 18:56

TEHRAN — The recently-approved law on selling national land area will seriously endanger the environment and jeopardize the integrity of the protected areas, according to the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization.

Last week Majlis (the Iranian parliament) adopted a law that authorizes those who have once illegally, or legally made changes to national land areas, to purchase and own the land lawfully, according to ISNA news agency.  

Therefore, as per the new law, land-use change, which can actually contribute many environmental predicaments, such as worsening greenhouse gas emission, is now permitted and even awarded by the law.

So, those who have either illicitly or even lawfully made changes to the national land areas for building settlements, commercial uses and forestry activities, are now allowed to purchase the lands provided that the constructions are hard to demolish or evict.

The law had clearly forbidden selling national land areas since 2010, Masoud Mansour, an official with Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization said on Tuesday. 

Before that, Mansour explained, all those who have lived up to their contract to use the land sustainably, were allowed to buy the land, however, due to the implications and detriment effects of such law it was revised since then. 

Even at that time, selling national land areas, was in line with country’s policy to create job and facilitate development, but now land-use change is awarded by letting trespasser to purchase the lands, he regretted. “The newly adopted law is even prioritizing those who have change the land-use over those who have legally and sustainably used it by selling the lands to them.”

He finally expressed hope that the Guardian Council would overturn the law. 

Land use, land-use change, forestry

Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) is characterized by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as a "greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use such as settlements and commercial uses, land-use change, and forestry activities."

LULUCF has impacts on the global carbon cycle and as such, these activities can add or remove carbon dioxide (or, more generally, carbon) from the atmosphere, influencing climate. LULUCF has been the subject of two major reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Additionally, land use is of critical importance for biodiversity.

Land-use change can be a factor in CO2 (carbon dioxide) atmospheric concentration, and is thus a main contributor to global climate change.

The extent, and type of land use directly affects wildlife habitat and subsequently impacts local and global biodiversity. Human alteration of landscapes from natural vegetation to any other use typically lead to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, all of which can have devastating effects on biodiversity.

National protected area system 

According to the book titled “review of forests, wood products and wood biotechnology of Iran and Germany, part II” co-authored by Ali Reza Kharazipour, Christian Schöpper, and Cora Müller the protected area and reserve system provide the core areas for biodiversity conservation. This reserve system is not sufficient in itself for long term conservation and must be harmonized with conservation efforts in other areas and land-uses. 

In Iran, areas protected by the Department of Environment (DOE) cover 8.2 million hectares. Limited tourism and research occurs in these areas which fall into four categories: national parks (11 sites), wildlife refuges (25 sites), protected areas (47 sites), and national nature monuments (5 sites).

In addition Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization affiliated with Ministry of Agriculture, manages 131 reserves with a total area of 111,000 hectares of these 19 are natural forest parks, 91 are forest reserves, and 21 are natural parks. 

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