Commercial Logging to End by March 2018

The commercial logging ban was initially supposed to be implemented in stages and go into full effect in 2020
Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters.Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters.

Commercial logging in the Caspian Hyrcanian forests will end by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2018), a forestry official said.

As part of the Forest Protection Act, such logging in the lush forests of northern Iran must end by March, ISNA quoted Nasser Esfandi, a deputy at the Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, as saying.

“Based on our sustainable development policies, we also plan on implementing reforestation schemes,” he added.

In January, the parliament approved the Forest Protection Bill banning commercial logging in the Caspian Hyrcanian forests for 10 years to help woodlands recover from years of onslaught by timber companies. The government has also been instructed not to renew logging licenses.

The logging prohibition was initially said to be implemented in stages and expected to go into full effect in 2020 but it seems FRWO officials are fast-tracking the ban.

“As of last month, only 20% of the 800 billion rials ($23.2 million) earmarked for the implementation of the law have been allocated by the government,” FRWO chief, Khodakaram Jalali, said.

The law is committed to underpin a four-year government directive that only allows diseased, dead and broken trees to be used for timber by placing a 10-year ban on exploiting forest resources.

It only places a ban on commercial logging, which means obtaining timber “from old and diseased trees” as fuel for heating in regions not connected to the national gas grid is still legal.

The use of other resources in the forests, such as plants used for herbal medicines, is also fine.

While there are no official figures, those who depend on timber from the northern forests for heating purposes use between 3.5 million and 4 million cubic meters of timber per annum.

The Oil Ministry is legally obliged to set up an alternative source of fuel for the locals, but it has not yet done so.

Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters and is expected to reach 13 million cubic meters in less than five years.

  Banning Campfires

The organization is pursuing a bill in the parliament that aims to ban setting up fires in forests, at least during the warmer months when the risk of wildfire is at its greatest.

Nasser Moqaddasi, the deputy head of FRWO, told ISNA that on Thursday despite a decline in areas burned by wildfires, more needs to be done.

Around 1,550 hectares of forests managed by FRWO burned in the first three months of the current year (March 21–June 21), marking a 30% decline compared with the same period of a year ago when 2,200 hectares of woodlands burned.

“More than 95%—perhaps even 100%—of wildfires are caused by humans,” he claimed. “Most are accidental but some people cause fires for personal gain, such as land grabbing.”

Those who intentionally start wildfires will serve between three- and five-year prison terms, while those who carelessly cause fire in forests and other protected areas will be imprisoned for between three months and three years.

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