Sustainable agriculture to be extended to wetlands

December 1, 2020 - 18:9

TEHRAN – A model of sustainable agriculture previously implemented on the catchment area of Lake Urmia, will be extended to all wetlands in the country.

For seven consecutive years, the Department of Environment (DOE) and the agriculture organizations of West and East Azarbaijan provinces have implemented a project for encouraging local communities to participate in the Lake Urmia restoration program and succeeded in expanding it to over 200 villages.

Sustainable agriculture has three main aspects, including income facilitation for the farmers, optimal utilization of water and soil resources, and ensuring food security, Ali Arvahi, the director of the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project explained.

According to the model, with the cooperation of locals and observing these three components, the environment, and natural resources will be preserved despite agriculture prosperity, he added.

“After the plan was conducted on the catchment of Lake Urmia, we decided to expand it to the villages around it,” he explained, adding, now, it has been planned to implement the successful project on all the country’s wetlands.

So, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the related departments of DOE and the Ministry of Agriculture, he stated.

Important wetlands are in priority, such as those registered in the Ramsar Convention or have an ecological management program, but the plan will gradually extend to all wetlands over time, Arvahi said.

In the first stage, it will most likely be carried out in Bakhtegan wetland in Fars province and Shadegan in Khuzestan province, he concluded.

Valuable wetlands

Wetlands play a major role in protecting the land against floods and the impacts of storms. They provide food and diverse habitats which support genetic, species, and ecosystem biodiversity. Wetlands play a key role in the life cycles of many species and in annual migration patterns.

Unfortunately, wetlands are being degraded and lost due to pollution, overexploitation, climate change, and human population growth. In recognition of these challenges, the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty, was adopted in 1971.

In Iran, 141 wetlands with ecological value with an area of over 3 million hectares have been identified, of which 25 wetlands are designated as wetlands of international importance (registered in the Ramsar Convention) covering more than 1.4 million hectares and four sites are biosphere reserves.

Of Iran’s 25 Ramsar sites about one-third are under pressure or in critical condition.

Chief of the Department of Environment, Issa Kalantari, has said in order to restore wetlands in the country a budget of 600 trillion rials (nearly $14 billion) is required.

FB/MG

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