People, Environment

Tourism Project Harming Tehran Forest

Tourism Project Harming Tehran ForestTourism Project Harming Tehran Forest

The tourist resort ‘Sib Village’ under construction in Tehran Province’s Aminabad region (in the north), has already inflicted damage to the forest in the area due to the contractors’ negligence and refusal to meet environment commitments.  

Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, director of the provincial office of the Department of Environment, told ILNA that the project has progressed too far to be stopped — an indication of how the environment almost always takes a backseat to financial gain.

He said the DOE had resorted to legal action last month to stop the project but the Judiciary has yet to respond. Heydarzadeh specifically referred to the construction of the gondola lift and road, which runs through the area’s juniper forest.

“It is too late to stop the construction of the gondola lift as the stands have already been installed,” the official said. However, being a sparse forest, not many trees were cut down.

Heydarzadeh said construction of the road was “a breach of law” and the contractors must have obtained permits before laying it.

As the foremost authority on forests, the provincial office of the Forests, Rangelands and Watershed Management Organization should have monitored the project more closely, he noted.

Located between the cities of Damavand and Firouzkouh, the project commenced in 2006 in the oldest forest reserve in the province where juniper trees stand and is home to a vast  wildlife species.

In spite of the tourism and economic potential of the project, environmentalists fear its construction will result in the irreversible loss of the region’s rich biodiversity, including 300 endemic plant species, as well as leopards, boars and wild sheep that are some of Iran’s endangered species.  

Environmental groups have warned against the destructive operations, but the commercial project is continuing to make inroads into the old forest areas and fell junipers that have resiliently stood there for centuries.

Sib Tourist Resort comprises three separate sites containing 2.5 to 3-meter-tall juniper trees. Hundreds of hectares of the mountain tract is being replaced by usual fancies seen in recreational centers: malls, restaurants, water-park, conference hall and amusement park.

Gondola cars will connect all these. Rumor mills have it that a hunting ground is also planned where people will get official permits and rifles to kill animals.