Forest Conservation Bill Taking Effect in Two Years

Forest Conservation Bill Taking Effect in Two YearsForest Conservation Bill Taking Effect in Two Years

The government's forest conservation bill, which aims to restrict the exploitation of northern forests, will go into effect in two years, although the delay has caused considerable damage to the country's woodlands.

The bill, also known as "Forests’ Respite", was ratified in 2013 and prohibits any commercial extraction of hardwood from northern woodlands, allowing them time for rehabilitation while the logging of dried, broken and fallen trees will still be allowed.

The Ministry of Agriculture had tasked the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization in 2016 to initiate the scheme in a year and wrap up all contracts of exploitation by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2018), ISNA reported.

This is while based on the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2017-22), a three-year period had been envisioned to gradually control the logging projects and stop felling living trees.

According to Ali Mohammad Shaeri, the head of Majlis Agriculture Commission, the livelihood of many locals depends on the practice and it takes time to create alternative jobs for them.

"The order is against the development plan and is a decision based on personal judgment," he said.

There have been calls for a total of ban on logging, but authorities maintain that it is not possible.

Shaeri noted that a complete ban "will lead to illegal practices and wood smuggling, putting extra pressure on locals who make living through logging."

"Besides, the piling up of dry and dead woods in forests also increases the risk of wildfires," he said.

Many activists are not satisfied with the bill, arguing that it is one-dimensional and addresses only one of the many dangers threatening the country’s woodlands.

The bill has failed to address hazards, such as property speculation, ever-increasing livestock grazing, uncontrolled tourism, withdrawal of water for urban, farming and industrial use, mining, road construction, excessive disposal of urban and hospital waste in forests.

In 1941, Iran’s northern forests covered 3.4 million hectares that shrank to 1.8 million hectares in 2000s. In 2002, the Department of Environment described one-third of this area as damaged woodland and left 1.2 million hectares as pristine forest.


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