Gondola lift threatens Hyrcanian forests UNESCO tag 

November 11, 2020 - 18:15

TEHRAN –Iran’s UNESCO-registered Hyrcanian forests (also known as Caspian forests), dating back some 50 million years, could lose its prestigious UNESCO status if the project of setting up gondola lifts is implemented as planned.

Although parts of the Hyrcanian forests have been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the follow-ups for setting up gondola lifts in this area continue and if this happens, the forest may be removed from the list, an official with the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization has announced.

Spanning from the south of Azerbaijan to about 850 km eastward to the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan, the Hyrcanian forests are witnesses of the ancient forests of the world since they have survived between 35 and 50 million years.

According to UNESCO, these forests are between 25 and 50 million years old. Their surface area was reduced during the Quaternary Period's dramatic climate changes and glaciations and expanded again when the temperatures stabilized.

“We have to be responsive not only to our country but also to the world for the damages done to this forest,” ISNA quoted Reza Bayani as saying on Tuesday.

However, necessary permits for the project have not yet been issued by the Steering Council for Iran’s UNESCO-registered Hyrcanian forests, he noted.

UNESCO has documented the existence of over 3,200 vascular plants and 58 species of mammals, including the iconic Persian panther and endangered wild goat in the forest.

Due to its isolation, the areas now protected by UNESCO are home to many endangered and endemic plant species at a regional and local level.

In July 2019, the UN cultural body designated the vast woodland as a World Heritage site, making it the second such Iranian natural site after Lut Desert, which was granted the tag in 2016.

According to UNESCO, 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.

Having an opulent tourist circuit with 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites Iran seeks to acquire a greater share of the global tourism industry by 2025.

ABU/MG

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