Plans to Protect Caspian Hyrcanian Forest

Plans to Protect Caspian Hyrcanian ForestPlans to Protect Caspian Hyrcanian Forest

The Caspian Hyrcanian forest stretching around the southern coast of the Caspian Sea has been under threat for a while. From illegal logging to dam constructions, numerous factors threaten the well-being of this unique forest, home to a plethora of fauna and flora.

The ecological importance of the woodland has prompted officials to do what they must to protect it, ISNA reported.

In a meeting held in Gilan Province, officials discussed a project aimed at proper management of the forest and its resources.

“The forest is of ecological, economic, and social importance. Therefore, protecting it is high on the agenda,” said Behzad Angooraj, a deputy at Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO).

He continued: “All northern provinces, which benefit from the forest, signed a memorandum of understanding obliging each province to do its utmost to protect the forest and efficiently manage its resources.

“In Gilan, for example, limits will be imposed to reduce logging and protect the ecosystem.”

Pointing to the abysmal condition of temperate broadleaf forests in other countries, the official commended Iran’s efforts in the past half a century to protect the forest.

“While these forests have been all but destroyed in other countries, the Caspian Hyrcanian forest in Iran is standing tall,” he said.

  Public Cooperation

Lamenting the current state of the forest, Angooraj said illegal activities and excessive construction have impacted the forest, making life for those whose livelihood depends on the forest difficult. “We must devise a way to reduce harm, and at the same time, increase revenue from the forest.”

He stressed the need for investment to properly manage the forest and asserted that FRWO has overhauled its views and policies in the past year. “Getting the public involved in our projects is one of the policies we feel strongly about.”

According to Angooraj, 7.1% of forest area in northern Iran has been lost in recent years, but experts hope FRWO’s new policies and the organization’s cooperation with provincial authorities and public collaboration will help reverse the declining trend.

“We hope to see positive changes in the fifth round of monitoring the forest,” he said, without disclosing the date of monitoring.

Angooraj asserted that the importance of improving the quality of life of forest dwellers “cannot be stressed enough,” and added: “Allowing natural resources to deteriorate exacerbates poverty.”

The Caspian Hyrcanian forest has been on UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage List since 2007. Its biological diversity is of economic and social value. There are a number of protected areas within the forest. It covers five provinces, stretching east to west along the southern border of the Caspian Sea, covering the provinces of North Khorasan, Golestan, Mazandaran, Gilan, and Ardabil.