Bushehr Forest Dying

Bushehr Forest Dying Bushehr Forest Dying

Forests cover slightly less than 10% of Iran’s land area, which despite seeming small is nothing short of a blessing given the country’s geography. But apparently even that cannot motivate Iranians to protect this rare natural resource.

Mehr News Agency reports that the key Galou Bardekan Forest in the proximity of Jam, in southern Bushehr Province, is on the verge of total destruction due to a variety of reasons, with manmade factors, unsurprisingly, topping the list.

Illegal logging for timber to clear land for farming and agriculture, deliberate and accidental wildfires, and trash left behind by campers are just a few examples of threats to the forest, according to Hussein Mohadesi, deputy spokesman of Jam City Council.

“The forest had immense tourism potential and functioned as the province’s lungs. Now that is history,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency.

The 200-year-old forest is home to 50 plant species and boasts tall mountains and roaring rivers, or at least it did until precipitation started to decline, forcing industries and farmers to siphon groundwater sources at an alarming rate.

Even worse, farms that sprung up following the illegal cutting down of trees are used to grow water-intensive crops, such as tomatoes.

“Official negligence is costing Bushehr one of its last remaining natural attractions,” Mohadesi said.

  No Preventive Measures

Iranian media have been trying to shed more light on the problems endangering the forest for over a year, but authorities have done next to nothing to end Galou Bardekan’s plight.

“It’s not just the higher-ups, but regular folks as well. We all have a responsibility to protect the environment, but at this rate there will be nothing left to protect,” said Ali Parishan, the council spokesman.

Not only do local authorities have no measures in place to eliminate the threats to the woodland, they have also failed to station a park ranger in the forest.

“Since the last ranger passed away a few months ago, the forest is without a warden” which makes a bad situation worse, said Reza Mahmoudi, a local environmentalist.  

Pointing to the local water-guzzler that is the Fajr Jam Gas Refinery, located seven kilometers away from the forest, Mahmoudi said it has been pumping 4,000 cubic meters of groundwater per day through seven wells for the past 20 years.

“Instead of finding ways to mitigate the effects of the natural phenomena, such as drought, on the forest, we’re working in tandem with them to ensure Galou Bardekan’s eventual destruction,” he said.

By some estimates, nearly 142,000 hectares of forestlands are destroyed for various reasons in Iran every year, prompting experts to warn that unless effective action is taken, future generations will be bereft of this natural resource.

The Department of Environment says it has drafted a Forest Protection Bill to help save the country’s woodlands, but given how long it has taken lawmakers to vote on the Clean Air Bill — more than a year and counting — it is highly unlikely that protecting forests ranks high on their agenda.