Arzhan, Parishan Nat’l Parks Under Siege

Arzhan, Parishan Nat’l Parks  Under SiegeArzhan, Parishan Nat’l Parks  Under Siege

Arzhan Plain, the last habitat of Persian lion, is under destruction to make room for a multistory hotel, gondola cars and their access roads.

The national parks of Arzhan and Parishan are situated 60 km west of Shiraz, Fars Province. They are in the vicinity of an important road that connects Shiraz to the provinces of Khuzestan and Bushehr. Though they are protected zones and considered public properties, graders and other heavy machinery have converged there for the past two months, Hamshahri Online reported.

“Arzhan and Parishan were the last home to Persian lions that were extirpated by local hunters and rulers some 90 years ago,” head of Kanoun-Sabz-Fars (Fars Green Center), Bahman Izadi, said.

The lions are long gone, but their habitats are still ecologically valuable. This is why the Department of Environment purchased lands in Arzhan Plain back in 1971 where excavating machineries are busy building the foundation of a large hotel.

 Splitting the Forest

Izadi also referred to Shiraz–Kazeroun Road, built in disregard of environmental concerns, which has split Zagros Oak Forests of Barm Plain in two halves.

Environmental activists protested against the construction, as the road disturbed the ecological balance of Arzhan and Parishan.

“Arzhan is a shield protecting the densest parts of Zagros Oak Forests. Not even a rock should be moved in the zone, let alone the construction of a hotel and gondola car,” he said.

Even if lands of Arzhan and Parishan did not belong to DOE, they should still have been protected against such development and construction activities, lest water and soil crises afflict the entire province.

“Fars DOE is against such operations and has filed a complaint through judicial authorities. Following the preliminary reviews, the court will most probably vote against the constructions,” Izadi added.

“Constructions have been conducted in the properties of DOE. We will prosecute them through the provincial department and DOE’s Office for Inspection and Legal Affairs,” director general of biomes and regional affairs at DOE, Hamid Gashtasb Meygouni, said.

Meygouni added that the manager of the development project is in violation of laws and the violating company must compensate the damage caused.

In 1971, 191,000 hectares in the plains of Arzhan and Parishan were designated as global park and international wetlands research center under the Ramsar Convention.

Executive problems reduced the area to 65,000 ha in 1974, downgrading it to a national park. In the same year, however, the area was introduced by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, and registered on Ramsar Convention Wetlands List.