By Faranak Bakhtiari

Nature therapy with Iran’s impressive bird diversity

November 27, 2020 - 18:4

TEHRAN – In addition to its great impact on the human psyche in today's stressful life, looking at birds and nature is like a free psychiatric hospital with organic treatment.

Going to nature and passing through trees and meadows, accompanying the pleasant sound of birds has always been pleasant and soulful, the pleasure of hearing the sound of birds in the morning is indescribable.

Experts have been recommending nature therapy for several years, and Iran, with its diverse climate and unique plant and animal species, can grow significantly in this area; the development of which can greatly affect the country's economy, and besides, the habitat and consequently the bird species will be protected.

According to statistics from global sources, in 2009 about four million Japanese traveled to different countries for bird watching.

Meanwhile, Iran is host to over 600 species of birds, the number of which is increasing year by year. It is also diverse and rich in plant species; So far, more than 10,000 plant species have been recorded in Iran, which is even higher than that of Europe.

Iran has designated the last Thursday of November as the National Day of Bird Watching to highlight the importance of this pastime in promoting accountable tourism.

The first National Birdwatching Day was celebrated on November 24, 2011, and has been going on ever since. But naming a day and holding a celebration is useless, rather, fundamental work must be done to preserve the environment and its species.

Wildlife trafficking main obstacle to avitourism

Mohammad Ali Yektanik, a wildlife expert, told IRNA that biodiversity in the direction of ecotourism and sustainable use of nature with the aim of protecting it creates a platform on which the world’s economy revolves today, except for Iran, despite its high potential.

Of course, there are very limited bird watching groups in the country, however, a major obstacle has not let it grow which is wildlife smuggling and consequently false culture of nature use, he lamented.

Criticizing the false culture of bird watching in the country, he said that bird gardens and zoos are not proper places either for birds or birdwatching and municipalities should not issue a license in this regard.

Birdwatching does not require much equipment or capital and requires only a camera and a book, so it is not expensive and can be used to earn income as it today attracts millions of passengers worldwide, he noted.

Birdwatching knows no specific age or law; a young child can watch birds like an adult; It is a great way to get out of the closed and stressful urban space, which affects the human soul and psyche, he added.

Also, when people watch birds, they gradually become acquainted with the environment, and this is the real partnership between the people and nature, which comes with the cheapest and the easiest method, he further said.

He also stressed that bird watching should be one of the main programs of the Department of Environment as the only custodian of wildlife protection, however, it currently is not the priority.

Unique birdwatching sites in Iran

Iran is decorated with impressive wetlands that hold a great share of aquatic and bird species and wildlife; Anzali Wetland, Qeshm Island, Orumieh Lake, and Miankaleh Peninsula are among the most important locations for bird watching in Iran.

Miankaleh International Wetland in Mazandaran, called the birdwatching paradise of Iran, stretches to a total area of 68,000 hectares, which is home to at least 130 species of migratory species with a population of 1.5 million.

Being an impressive bird-watching destination, the wetland displays a variety of bird species such as otters, all kinds of fish-eating ducks (common goldeneye and Mergus), pelicans, flamingos and cormorants, common pheasants, partridges, mute swan, tundra swan, and coots. Ashuradeh was introduced and registered as one of the world's first biosphere zones in 1975.

Gomishan wetland in Golestan province is home to over 20,000 water birds, and more than 20 species of birds, which supports three IUCN Red List vulnerable species of waterbirds, i.e., Pelecanus crispus, Aythya nyroca, and Vanellus gregarious, as well as the vulnerable mammal Phoca (Pusa) caspica; it is also an important staging area for the fish subspecies Rutilus rutilus caspicas.

Located at the foot of the Zagros mountains in north-western Iran, Zarivar is a freshwater wetland hosting over 74 bird species, which is designated as a Ramsar Site.

The Site provides a suitable breeding and resting place for birds and other wetland animals, and due to the relatively extensive reed beds, it is an important overwintering site for northern migratory birds.

Located in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province, Choghakhor Wetland is flowing on 1687 hectares; designated as a hunting restricted area. It supports more than 47 bird species, with breeding populations of migratory birds such as the Northern Pintail (Anas acuta).

It supports more than 1 percent of the population of Gadwall (Anas strepera) and harbors threatened species such as the endangered White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca).

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