Great concerns as bulldozers tearing down forest for building roads

September 3, 2018 - 8:53

TEHRAN – Long stretches of roads being under construction in Savadkuh forest, northern province of Mazandaran, has raised great concerns due to causing severe environmental impacts and posing serious threat to the life of region’s rare biodiversity, ISNA reported on Sunday.

Savadkuh forest, sprawled on the jungle-clad lower ridges of Alborz mountain range in northern Iran, is surrounded by numerous countless and ancient trees, including yew, alder, maple and tulip, and the presence of shrubs and animal rare species such as wild goat, ram and even leopards also added to the attractiveness of the forest.

“Over a thousand trees have been cut so far, as deforestation bulldozers clearing trees to construct roads in the heart of the forest,” the report added.

While some parts of the lands are the protected areas and under supervision of the Department of Environment (DOE), the rest of the lands are controlled by the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization (FRWO), so, this parallel management led to the construction of a road stretching six kilometers, the report added.

Moreover, it has not been clear yet whether or not a construction permit has been issued.

The devastation of the natural areas of Savadkuh forest, as well as any protected area, results in many irreparable damages including road surface erosion and sediment yield, slope failures and mass movement, direct loss of habitat (by the conversion of the original land cover into an artificial surface) and indirect loss of habitat (by the fragmentation of an ecosystem into smaller and more isolated patches).

Not environmentally assessed

The chief of provincial department of environment Ebrahim Fallahi said that as long as the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization is the responsible body for the lands which are under construction of roads, the Savadkuh DOE cannot directly issue a complaint in this regard.

However, the FRWO should have called on us prior to the construction of the road, since all construction projects are subjected to environmental impact assessment according to the Article 38 of the Sixth National Development Plan (2016-2021), he added.

 DOE must take action

Masoud Mansour head of the FRWO has noted that the provincial nomad’s affairs organization has started to construct a 4-kilometer forest road for nomads to pass through without asking for a license, and as soon as we found out, a delegation has been dispatched to halt the process.

After some researches, we decided to propose a 4-kilometer route with less environmental impacts if a road to be constructed on it, he said, adding that the provincial DOE must enter the issue if there are certain animal and plant species which might be in danger.

Road, not highway

Mohsen Mousavi Takami, deputy director of Mazandaran forest, rangeland and watershed organization, said that although, the organization has issued license to construct a 4-kilometer road in Savadkuh forest, the nomad’s affairs organization not only violated the rules by expanding the length of road from 4 km to 6 km, but plowed into other lands of the forest to build other roads at the mountain peaks using bulldozers.

He went on to say that six farmers lived in the area for nearly 100 days a year who requested to construct a forest road, so, we issued a permit to construct a forest road for the farmers and nomads can travel during the time they stay in the forest, not a highway.

Currently, the construction process has come to a halt, and the FRWO will follow up on the issue through judicial system, and violators would be fined and punished severely, he concluded.


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