Timber Demand to Double

Timber Demand to Double Timber Demand to Double

Iran’s demand for timber is estimated to reach 13 million cubic meters in five years, double the current 6.5 million cubic meters.

Speaking to ILNA, Daryoush Golalizadeh, head of the Department of Environment working group to protect forests, said the increased demand cannot be met domestically.

“Our forests are shrinking rapidly, and we can’t exploit them further; they just don’t have the capacity,” he said.

Officials have proposed a variety of solutions to reduce reliance on Iran’s woodlands to meet the growing demand, one of which is leasing forests from other countries.

“It’s a common practice. We can rent a portion of a forest or a tract of land in another country and plant pine trees, which grow quickly,” Golalizadeh said.

Iran has lined up a number of measures to alleviate the pressure on forests, such as increasing import of timber from Russia and Ukraine in an effort to reduce logging in the country and protect the Caspian Hyrcanian forests (along the Caspian Sea in the north).

Tehran currently imports a million cubic meters of timber from Russia and Ukraine annually, but wants to increase the volume four times. The end goal is to import a total of ten million cubic meters of wood every year by 2021.

Last week, top officials, including DOE chief Massoumeh Ebtekar, and head of the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, Khodakaram Jalali, met to discuss new regulations pertaining to the import of timber. While details of the meeting were not revealed, those involved in the talks said all sides had agreed on major points.

Furthermore, many are calling on the government to incentivize tree farms, which currently supply 76% of the country’s wood needs according to statistics from the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization. A tree farm is a privately owned tract of land where trees are grown for commercial use. There about 220,000 hectares of tree farms in Iran.

  Policy Reform Imperative

Golalizadeh believes reducing reliance on timber is far more important than finding ways to meet the growing demand.

“We need to overhaul our policies … We still think ‘commercial use of forests’ means cutting trees down, while it actually refers to sustainable use of forest ecosystems to make a living,” he said.

The official said the country is at a point where “one wrong decision may well end up empowering timber smugglers, who are visibly thriving.”

Forests cover 14 million hectares of Iran — less than 10% of the land area — which is relatively small compared to the global average, but nothing short of a blessing given the country’s geography.

The Department of Environment has drafted a Forest Protection Bill, which contains measures to gradually reduce logging. Parliament has yet to vote on it.

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