People, Environment

Experts Question Wetland Conservation Bill

Experts Question Wetland Conservation Bill
Experts Question Wetland Conservation Bill

Wetland experts have called into question the effectiveness of a bill aimed at preserving and reviving wetlands, citing concerns over the execution of regulations.

The bill, proposed by the Department of Environment and approved by the Cabinet on May 10, was sent to the parliament for review earlier this month, Mehr News Agency reported.

Titled “Conservation, Restoration and Management of Iran’s Wetlands”, the bill calls for curbing large-scale economic activities, such as mining and agriculture, in the vicinity of wetlands, and making all related activities comply with environmental regulations.

Experts believe the dire state of Iran’s wetlands and the inability of relevant organizations to enforce environmental regulations will ease acquisition of permits to engage in activities detrimental to wetlands and the ecosystems they support.

Even though the significance of wetlands is emphasized, experts say the bill does not mention the worrying condition of water bodies and fails to outline how the regulations will be enforced.

“Over 90% of Iran’s wetlands are endangered and risk becoming sources of dust storms, yet DOE has not been able to revive these. Therefore, enforcing the bill once it becomes a law seems like a very difficult task,” said Houman Khakpour, a natural resources expert.

He argued that any new industrial and mining exploitation of domestic wetlands is prohibited as per Article 193 of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010-15).

“But the very first article of the bill clearly contradicts that by allowing construction, mining, industrial and agricultural activities to take place close to wetlands so long as they comply with regulations and meet certain criteria,” Khakpour said.

The government and DOE have come under growing pressure in recent months from NGOs and prominent environmentalists to take effective action to protect and preserve the wetlands and check environmental degradation.

The administration in general and the embattled DoE in particular have often pledged to tackle the issue with added resolve. However, little of substance in this key area of growing concern has been accomplished.