Wildfire burns 340ha of Miankaleh wildlife sanctuary

August 17, 2020 - 18:28

TEHRAN – Raging wildfire burnt about 340 hectares of the Miankaleh wildlife sanctuary in northern Mazandaran province on Sunday, commander of the protection unit at the provincial department of environment has stated.

The fire erupted in Miankaleh on Sunday morning, in the eastern part of the area called “Mian Qaleh”, which was extinguished a day later, Moslem Ahangari said, IRNA reported.

About 340 hectares of forest and pasture lands turned to ashes, 60 percent of which were pomegranate trees and the remaining 40 percent were shrubs, raspberries, and other vegetation, he noted.

Ahangari did not rule out the possibility that the fire was intentional, saying that the province's environment protection unit continues to identify the person or possible suspects caused the fire, and if the perpetrator is identified, will be reported to the judiciary.

Miankaleh International Wetland and Wildlife Sanctuary in Mazandaran stretches to a total area of 68,000 hectares. About 20,000 hectares of this area consists of forest lands, including pomegranate trees and shrubs and raspberries. This vegetation, along with the Miankaleh International Wetland, is home to at least 130 species of migratory species with a population of 1.5 million.

Shrubs are used as a refuge for migratory birds for spawning and hatching, and wild pomegranate and raspberry trees are also used as food for these birds. In recent years, due to intentional fires, a large number of animal species in this area have become extinct.

Miankaleh peninsula is 48 kilometers long, and between 1.3 and 3.2 kilometers wide, which sets apart the Gorgan Bay from the Caspian Sea. The peninsula was designated a Ramsar site in 1975 and called Iran's bird-watching paradise.

Major habitats include wetlands, inter-tidal mud with sandy shores, shallow marine waters, forests, peatlands, and agricultural areas. It is home to many unique Caspian birds and reptile species native to this region. It's also a very important internationally-recognized refuge for migratory birds.

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