Zagros forest protection plan being implemented

October 15, 2019

TEHRAN – A plan to protect Zagros forest is being implemented through which nearly 100,000 hectares of the forest will be covered with seedlings, Khalil Aqaei, head of the Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization has announced.

Under the five-year plan, Zagros Mountain neighboring provinces are assigned with specific tasks, including planting seedlings on 85,000 to 100,000 hectares of the forest, which will be carried out in the current year, he explained.

He went on to say that the plan kicked off on May 22 in Ilam province. “Actions to be taken in Zagros forest and the priorities are outlined in the plan, most notably the issue of aquifer and watershed management, conservation and reforestation.”

“Forest enrichment and development along with controlling pests and diseases are among other objectives of the plan,” he added, Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

He highlighted that a total budget of 6.5 trillion rials (around $155 million) has been earmarked for the plan.

Aqaei noted that about one-third of our commitments in the provinces have been fulfilled, adding that the remaining two-thirds will also be implemented in the coming months.

Referring to watershed management plans, he said that this year, some €150 million from the National Development Fund has been allocated, which is being implemented in more than 10,000 locations around the country.

According to Aqaei, watershed projects will be conducted on 1,033 basins constituting 90 percent of the country's cities. Parts of the measures are being taken in southeastern Kerman and northern Mazandaran provinces.

Pointing out that these projects have so far completed by 55 percent, he concluded that most of these projects will be accomplished by February 16, 2020.

Earlier in July, Aqaei said that given that Zagros forest’s condition is worrisome being gravely threatened by wood logging, it must become the main concern of the related bodies to prevent it from disappearance.

Zagros Mountain forest steppe ecoregion with an area of about 6 million hectares (3.5 percent of Iran) is located primarily in Iran, ranging northwest to southeast and roughly paralleling the country's western border. The forests constitute 40 percent of the country’s forested area and are stretching over 12 provinces. These forests have also been called western oak forests, due to the dominance of oak species. 

According to the Science Direct Western, oak forests are home to many species including, the Persian squirrel which is the indicator species of this region. Persian squirrels and oak trees have symbiotic relationships, in which forests provide ecological requirements of Persian squirrels such as food and shelter and, in return, the Persian squirrel contributes in seed germination and forests’ regeneration. 

A wide variety of wildlife, including wolves, leopards, and even the Persian fallow deer which was once thought extinct have made their homes in the mountains.

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