People, Environment

Isfahan Desertification Causing Concern

Isfahan Desertification Causing Concern Isfahan Desertification Causing Concern

Low precipitation, injudicious water use/waste and dwindling groundwater resources have exacerbated desertification in the central Isfahan Province.

Hamid Zahrabi, head of the provincial office of the Department of Environment says “Roughly 33% of the entire province is desert, about 1.3 million hectares of which are at the mercy of strong winds that lead to dust storms.”

The official said particle sensors in the provincial capital Isfahan regularly record fine particle (PM2.5) concentrations that require “serious attention,” ISNA reported. He did not elaborate.

Pointing to the dire state of wetlands in the province he said the desiccation is worsening the province’s struggle against dust storms. Isfahan is a major tourist attraction and is visited by millions of domestic and foreign travelers every year.

In addition to depleted groundwater resources and declining precipitation, Zahrabi said failure to uphold Gavkhouni Wetland’s water rights and allowing Zayandehroud River to run dry have also contributed terribly to the rising intensity and frequency of dust storms as well as the expansion of Isfahan’s desert wastelands.

“Farmlands that are not irrigated are eventually abandoned and become sources of dust storms,” he said.

 Plan of Action

The official said eight meetings aimed at brainstorming solutions to Isfahan’s growing environmental problems have been held since March.

“The sessions were constructive and we recently managed to approve a plan of action to tackle the problems,” Zahrabi said.

The ambitious plan, which targets a significant reduction in frequency and intensity of dust storms by 2020, outlines measures to restore 8,000 hectares of barren land using various methods, from mulching to the planting of shelterbelts — a line of trees or shrubs planted to protect areas from strong winds and the erosion that follows.

“We believe proper implementation of the plan will help address half of our environmental problems in the next five years,” the DOE official was quoted as saying.