People, Environment

Wetland Pastures Off-Limits to Livestock

Wetland Pastures Off-Limits to LivestockWetland Pastures Off-Limits to Livestock

Shepherds in Khuzestan Province will soon be banned from using wetland pastures to feed their livestock.

In a bid to preserve the vegetation of pastures in and around wetlands, which could theoretically help prevent the expansion of sources of dust storms, the Department of Environment task force to combat dust storms has reached an agreement with the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization to designate “regions with a potential to become sources of dust storms” off-limits, according to Ziaeddin Shoaei, head of the task force.

Thanks to good rainfall in the past few months, the wetlands in the oil-rich province are in good condition, but the water will evaporate come summer, exposing lush pastures for livestock to graze on.

“By banning grazing in those pastures, the vegetation will remain for a few years, preventing the wetlands from becoming sources of dust storms,” the official told ISNA.

“Due to a lack of funding, it is imperative to use cost-effective means of controlling dust storms,” Shoaei said, echoing statements by President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting with the High Environment Council in March when he called for public cooperation to help mitigate the effects of the destructive phenomenon.

The embattled southwestern province has between 320,000 and 400,000 hectares of barren land that exacerbate its near permanent struggle with dust storms that mostly originate in neighboring Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

According to Shoaei, 32 trillion rials ($927.5 million) are needed to address the problem in Khuzestan alone, while the same amount is needed to tackle the worsening problem in Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan.

In other words, Iran needs to spend about $2.8 billion just to control domestic sources of dust storms.

Massive dust storms frequently hit Khuzestan Province in the southwest, locking everyone indoors, crippling the entire oil province and filling emergency rooms with people complaining of breathing difficulties and other ailments.

Tehran has appealed for an international effort to help tackle the problem that has imposed a high toll in human life and colossal economic cost on the government, but only Iraq has shown some interest in working toward that goal.

Furthermore, the DOE and United Nations Environment Programme are set to begin cooperating as part of a joint effort to tackle dust storms and particulate matter pollution. The project is said to be financially supported by the Global Environment Fund.