Mining Threatens Arasbaran

Mining Threatens Arasbaran
Mining Threatens Arasbaran

Without environmental assessments, mining is undoubtedly the greatest threat to the Arasbaran ecosystem, according to director general of East Azerbaijan provincial Department of Environment (DoE), Hamid Ghasemi.

Since the province is located in an arid and semi-arid area, Arasbaran forest is a blessing for East Azerbaijan, he said in a statement published on the DoE website.

Copper mining in the area can have significant impact on both plant and wildlife in the forest. Waste produced while separating copper from other low-grade ore can leach into soils, groundwater, and surface water, with disastrous effects. Contamination of water sources is also a danger to public health.

Calling for immediate action to address the issue before it is too late, Ghasemi warned that excessive mining in the Arasbaran biome is a public health hazard, affecting not only the region, but the entire country.

The forest covers only 3.6% of the entire province but enjoys a diverse fauna, with over 320 important species of animals including the Caucasian grouse, ring-necked pheasant (Arasbaran pheasant), Caspian red deer and Shouka deer, leopard, and brown bear.

The forest is also home to a rich flora. Over 1000 kinds of rare plants make the forest a perfect place to study the history and life of ancient vegetation. Therefore, apart from being a protected national park, Arasbaran is considered a biosphere reserve and is of international significance, the official stressed.

Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

A biosphere reserve is an area proposed by its residents, ratified by a national committee, and designated by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) program, which demonstrates innovative approaches to living and working in harmony with nature. One of the primary objectives of MAB is to achieve a sustainable balance between the goals of conserving biological diversity, promoting economic development, and maintaining associated cultural values.

Despite covering a small area, the biome of Arasbaran plays a very important role in maintaining the ecological balance of the region. The significance of Aras Catchment in the environmental, economic, and social life of Iranians and its dependence on Arasbaran ecosystem gives the forest an even greater importance, in the same vein as Lake Urumia, he explained.