4WD car rally called off in support of UNESCO-tagged forest

August 3, 2019

TEHRAN - The Touring & Automobile Club of the Islamic Republic of Iran (TACI) has canceled its plan for staging a rally of four-wheel-drive cars that opponents believe could inflict harm to environment of the Hyrcanian Forest, which has been recently designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage.

The car rally was scheduled to take place August 17 to 19 in a route that passes through Dizin and Alamut in Qazvin province, Salmanshahr and Kelardasht in Mazandaran province, in a plan that brought immediate disapproval from the Department of Environment, media personnel and nature lovers in the country.

“Such rally is being held annually and some 90 percent of its itinerary goes through asphalt roads and some 10 percent through dusty ones,” the TACI chief executive Ramin Afshari said, ILNA reported on Saturday.

“This year, we named the rally after the Hyrcanian Forest just to mark the forest being registered on the UNESCO list. The rally was not supposed to take place in the Hyrcanian Forest and its route is clearly recognizable,” he explained.

Hyrcanian Forest (also known as Caspian Forest), 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).

According to UNSESO, the forest contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. It also contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

AFM/MG

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