People, Environment

Parks Disappear at Terrible Speed

Parks Disappear at Terrible SpeedParks Disappear at Terrible Speed

Tehran’s national parks, one of only a handful of areas across the sprawling capital that have remained unspoiled, are shrinking at an alarming rate.

National parks are reserves of natural, semi-natural or developed land, owned by the state and declared a protected area for conservation purposes. In Iran, semi-natural and developed national parks are usually known as forest parks.

In Tehran, the municipality is responsible for such parks and protected areas.

“These parks are getting smaller and smaller every year; a sign of gross mismanagement,” Mostafa Parvizi Moqqadam, deputy for land affairs and protection at the provincial office of Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, said at an environmental conference on Thursday in Tehran.

A case in point is the well-known Chitgar Forest Park in western Tehran that covered an area of 1,450 hectares when it was declared a protected area over 40 years ago. Today it barely covers 840 hectares, thanks to the unorganized, unacceptable and in many ways absurd urbanization that has brought near disaster in its wake for both human life and the environment.

“Parts of Chitgar were destroyed to make way for the construction of buildings and a highway,” Moqqadam said, according to Mehr News Agency.

The park is located in District 22 of Tehran Municipality; the same district where the government last week slapped a long-awaited ban on development projects as a result of unrestrained construction of high-rises that has blocked pivotal winds from blowing Tehran’s toxic smog away.

The official said it is imperative to protect Lavizan Forest Park, in northeastern Tehran, from succumbing to a similar fate.

Likening the park to “Tehran’s lungs,” Moqqadam said failure to protect Lavizan forest will have dire consequences. Tehran has been under a serious environmental threat for years due to a variety of natural and human factors.

“To prevent dust storms from reaching Tehran, trees were planted across large swathes of land in the south of the province,” he said, adding that the trees are disappearing rapidly because the timber mafia is tearing them down.  

“Wildfires and construction projects are other threats to our environment,” Moqqadam said.

The FRWO official did not say who should be prosecuted for the destruction of green areas and parks around the capital — home to 12 million people and growing.  If the recent history of environmental degradation in Tehran and across the country is anything to go by, higher-ups of all stripes never accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong. It is always the fault of someone else!

The unending bouts of toxic air pollution visiting major cities for years together are another glaring example of how senior urban management has failed the masses and also how ‘economic growth’ has taken precedence over all others.