Water Hyacinth Pose a Major Problem in Gilan

Water Hyacinth Pose a Major Problem in GilanWater Hyacinth Pose a Major Problem in Gilan

Common water hyacinth has emerged as a new source of concern in the northern province of Gilan.

The aquatic plant that made headlines last year by appearing in the Anzali Wetland’s southernmost region is now being sold openly in the markets across Gilan.

Native to the Amazon basin, water hyacinth can swiftly and aggressively cover an entire wetland, which will dramatically impact water flow, block sunlight from reaching the plants in the depths of the water and starve the wetland of oxygen, killing whatever marine life it hosts.

It clogs waterways, making boating, fishing and all other water activities almost impossible. Water flow through water hyacinth mats is greatly diminished, an acre of water hyacinth can weigh more than 200 tons; infestations can be many acres in size.

“The free-floating weed is also toxic to people and animals, and could trigger severe allergic reactions particularly in children,” environmentalist Leyla Masroori told IRNA.

“Despite efforts by authorities to eliminate the invasive plant and remove it from the wetland and rivers in Gilan, they have found their way into the local markets as they are in high demand as household plants due to their very showy lavender flowers,” she added.

According to Masroori, the Anzali Wetland Restoration Headquarter at Gilan Governorate has said doing away with water hyacinth is a top priority. As such, provincial officials as well as environmental authorities in towns adjacent to the wetland are urged to take legal action against any form of trade involving the plant.

“We expect the authorities to act swiftly against those behind the illegal trade of the plant because it will reach all water bodies across the province in no time once it enters people’s homes (and subsequently the sewerage network),” Masroori stressed.

 Seizures in Rasht

Meanwhile, environment officials in Rasht and Anzali have said they will firmly pursue any instance of such cases in their respective jurisdictions.

Head of the Department of Environment office in Rasht Asghar Khodkar said a large amount of water hyacinth sold in the city had been seized from vendors from Eynak Wetland, located in the western part of the city.

“We have asked the province’s judiciary office to issue an order to prevent the plant’s trade, and several offenders have so far been arrested,” he told IRNA.

He called for setting up a special committee in cooperation with non-governmental organizations to follow up on the pressing issue.

Water hyacinth also provides a great habitat to mosquitoes, snails, and bacteria and requires careful treatment for the water hyacinth, not to increase uncontrollably

Controlling the growth and spread of water hyacinth, called by some plant scientists as the worst aquatic plant species, requires millions of dollars every year, highlighting the importance of curbing import of the highly invasive species.

Experts have repeatedly warned that if effective action is not taken in a timely manner, the problem will extend to the Caspian Sea, in which case controlling the spread will be a herculean task given the size of the northern waterway.