Iran seeking UNESCO inscription for Hyrcanian Forest

September 23, 2018

TEHRAN — Iran is seeking to inscribe Hyrcanian Forest (also known as Caspian Forest), in northern parts of the country, on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

According to Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization’s (CHHTO) deputy director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian, UNESCO experts will travel to Iran to evaluate the site for possible inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a natural site in [the Iranian calendar month of] Mehr (September 23-October 22).

Jahan-Nama Forest

A site goes through a nomination process before being considered for inscription by the World Heritage Committee. A site can be proposed for inscription only by the country in which the property is located, UNESCO official website writes.

Talebian also mentioned the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from June 30 to July 10, 2019, saying that they should do their best to convince the experts to agree with the inscription of the property in 2019. 

Once a country signs the World Heritage Convention, and has sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps increase awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation. Increased awareness result in a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties. A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.

Alimestan Forest

The World Heritage Committee, on its 40th session inscribed the Lut Desert, or Dasht-e-Lut, located in the south-east of the country, as a natural site and now in a collaborative effort between Department of Environment (DOE), Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization (FRWO), and Germany Michael Succow Foundation as well as CHHTO for about two years Iran is planning on inscribing Hyrcanian Forest on the list, Tasnim quoted Talebian as saying.

The Michael Succow Foundation was established in 1999 as the first charitable conservation foundation in Germany. The Michael Succow Foundation is an operational foundation on the national and international level. It is engaged in the development and protection of national parks and biosphere reserves.

Michael Succow Foundation project ‘Supporting the creation of a nomination dossier for Iran’s Hyrcanian forests as World Heritage Site’ supported capacity building and preparation of a nomination dossier for the Hyrcanian forest by the Iranian side through providing technical support, holding training workshops and giving expert advice.

The project was financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany.

Hyrcanian Forest

The Hyrcanian Forest, as described by Succow Foundation, extends from the south of Azerbaijan to about 900 km to the east to the Iranian northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan. This forest forms the outermost boundary of the west-Eurasian nemoral deciduous forests to alpine thorn cushion corridors and forest-free dry vegetation of the Iranian highlands and Central Asia.
 
The Hyrcanian Forest cover the northern slope of the Alborz Mountain in Iran at the southern edge of the Caspian Sea and it contains very rich ecosystems due to the particular orographic and climatic situation (precipitation rich, warm-temperate, high moisture from the Caspian Sea and damming effect of the Alborz Mountain range). 

This forest is one of the major glacial refugia arcto-tertiary forest vegetation where a number of tertiary relics survived the Ice Age and developed numerous endemic taxa of flora and fauna. The nomination of the Hyrcanian Forests as a UNESCO World Heritage site had been under attention since 2001 prior to become the recent focus and one of the priorities of the Iranian government on 2017.

Abr Forest
 
The remnants of virgin and old-growth forests should be protected strictly for the world and the World Heritage Convention is a suitable tool to protect the remaining pristine remnants of Natural heritage. 

Recognition of these forests as a World Heritage site will increase the worldwide popularity of these forests, in addition, it can enhance the realization of the people in the region of their outstanding heritage through awareness raising and exchange of experiences with other world heritage sites. The world heritage certificate also contributes to increase tourism in the world heritage.
 
Some areas of Hyrcanian Forest, including Golestan National Park, Abr Forest, Jahan-Nama Forest, Boula protected area, Kojur District, Alimestan Forest, Vaz protected area, Chahar-Bagh protected area, Khoshkdaran forest park, Gasht-e Roudkhan protected area, Siahroud protected area and Lisar protected area are considered for inscription on UNESCO World Heritage List. 

MQ/MG

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