People, Environment

Forest Revival Project Enters 2nd Phase

Forest Revival Project Enters 2nd PhaseForest Revival Project Enters 2nd Phase

A combination of wildfires, droughts and climate change has accelerated the rate of desertification in Iran to new and serious levels.

By some estimates, nearly 50,000 hectares of forestlands are destroyed for various reasons every year prompting experts to warn that unless swift action is taken the country will not have any forests within 60 years.

Enter a completely people-driven initiative known as the Jangalaneh Project, a reforestation effort led by NGOs and supported by the Department of Environment, the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, and the Zagros Project, whose focus is the conservation of biodiversity in the Central Zagros region, according to IRNA.

The second phase of the project is set to begin on December 18 across the country, but in case of heavy rain, it may be postponed for a week.  It was launched last year by the Shiraz-based NGO Boomgardan-e-Pars in cooperation with NGOs from 14 provinces in a bid to revive forests across the country. It involves planting trees, saplings and seeds in appropriate areas designated by provincial DOE offices.

The first stage was launched last December in 14 provinces, namely Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan, Kurdestan, Alborz, Tehran, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad, South Khorasan, Isfahan, West Azarbaijan, Mazandaran, Qazvin and Fars, during which 2,100 volunteers from across the country planted saplings and seeds of plants native to each region in 161 hectares of land that used to be replete with trees.

This year, every province —minus Qom and Hormozgan — and more than 170 organizations have expressed readiness to join the project.

According to the secretary of Boomgardan-e Pars, Maliheh Sabet, Jangalaneh is a five-year project.

“Our goals include reviving forests and rangelands, identifying and protecting endangered plant species, empowering local communities and nurturing their role in environmental conservation, and promoting sustainable development,” she said.

Mohammad Darvish, in charge of education and public participation at the DOE, said cultivating a sense of responsibility is a key factor in the conservation of environment and biomes and highlighted the role of NGOs in bridging the gap between the general public and authorities.

“These organizations can help educate and acculturate local populations,” he said.

Half a century ago, the Caspian Hyrcanian forests in northern Iran covered 6.5 million hectares of land. Today, the forests barely occupy 1.9 million hectares, of which 800,000 are endangered.

The alarming rate of deforestation is not restricted to Iran’s northern forests: Woodlands across the country are threatened by desertification, and projects such as Jangalaneh are needed to help save these ecologically-rich lands.