Tehran Green Spaces Vanishing

Excessive development and land-use change threaten Tehran's dwindling green spaces
Tehran’s mayor says more than half the city is covered in green spaces, but that doesn't seem to be the case.Tehran’s mayor says more than half the city is covered in green spaces, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

The rapid loss of green spaces in Tehran has caused concerns among many, including environment officials, that the Iranian capital may become devoid of these ecologically-important areas.

Blaming the decline of green spaces in the city on land-use change, Mohammad Hossein Bazgir, the head of the provincial office of the Department of Environment, said urban green areas and gardens, particularly in northwestern Tehran, have been destroyed to make room for the construction of high-rises, YJC reported.

"These developments are suffocating the city," he added.

Pointing to the dismal state of plane trees lining Valiasr, a famous thoroughfare in Tehran connecting Tajrish Square in the north to Rah Ahan Square in the south, Bazgir said the roots of the trees have suffered extensive damage due to development projects along the street.

"They're not as lively as they used to be; they're dying," he said.

The official said years of unplanned development have cost Tehran its pomegranate groves in and around the city.

"Now there are only a few pomegranate trees left across Tehran," Bazgir said.

In recent years, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf faced heat for allowing unrestrained construction and land-use change in the city, and Tehran City Council has been criticized for ignoring his violations.

In March, Qalibaf said he had overseen the expansion of Tehran's green spaces from 18,000 hectares to 39,000 hectares in his 12 years at the municipality, which claim has been roundly rejected.

In response, the Persian daily Etemad posted a satellite photo of Tehran on its website captioning it: "Tehran has an area of 70,000 hectares and Mr. Qalibaf says 39,000 hectares—more than half the area of the city—are made up of green spaces. So why is Tehran's satellite photo grey?"

"There is a law that holds the mayor responsible for protecting and expanding the city's green spaces, and tasks the city council with obliging the mayor take the right decisions," Bazgir said. "Failure to do so is, therefore, illegal."

Iranians took to the polls on Friday to elect a new president and vote for new city council members. Most candidates seeking a seat in the local council ran on similar platforms to protect the city's green zones and alleviate traffic. Whether or not they'll deliver on their promises, however, is a different matter altogether.


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