Now Woodworms Dare Zagros Forests

Now Woodworms  Dare Zagros Forests Now Woodworms  Dare Zagros Forests

When it rains, it pours; an ironic analogy to describe the worsening condition of Iran’s Zagros forests. Years of drought and declining precipitation are the primary causes of the latest threat unleashed on the endangered woodlands: woodworms.

Covering large swathes of western and southwestern Iran, the oak-rich Zagros forests are precious resources that are threatened by a variety of factors, including drought and high concentration of particulate matter, not to mention rampant logging by locals in need of fuel and illegal lumberjacks looking for a fast buck.

However, according to a report by Mehr News Agency, lack of water and recurring dust storms have further weakened the ancient oak trees, rendering them susceptible to woodworms, which have caused the death of countless trees by boring holes in their trunks, preventing growth.

The trees are afflicted by the larval of a species of woodboring beetle belonging to the Sphenopetra family.

Most of the damage has been observed in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province, a heavily-wooded region in southwest Iran where about 1,000 hectares of woodland has succumbed to woodworms.

  Weakened Trees

“Perpetual drought and declining rainfall over the past 14 years have robbed the trees of their resilience to pests such as woodworms,” Afshin Moqadas, an agriculture expert, told the news agency. “Rainfall doesn’t just provide trees with water for growth; it also strengthens them.”

Recalling Iran’s seemingly unending struggle with dust storms, Moqadas said the high concentration of particulate matter has also played a role in weakening the trees.

Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari borders Khuzestan Province to the west, which has borne the brunt of massive dust storms in recent years that have both domestic and foreign sources.

According to Ali Mohammadi Moqadam, head of the provincial office of the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, livestock grazing in the forests has also hampered their natural ability to restore themselves.

“This will eventually strip the land of its trees,” he warned.

  Pesticide Spraying

 The official said his office has held talks with an aviation company to spray pesticides on the forests from an agricultural aircraft, a technique referred to as aerial application.

“Once we prepare a landing strip for the plane, we’ll begin the project,” Moqadam added.

The Zagros Mountains forest steppe ecoregion is located primarily in Iran, ranging northwest to southeast and roughly paralleling the country’s western border. In addition to a diversified steppe flora, the steppe supports oak-dominant deciduous forests as well as pistachio and almond forests.

A wide variety of wildlife, including wolves, leopards, and even the Persian fallow deer which was once thought extinct have made their homes in the mountains.