People, Environment

Road Construction Plan in North National Park Denied

Road Construction Plan in North National Park DeniedRoad Construction Plan in North National Park Denied

The office of the governor of Neka in Mazandaran Province has issued a statement denying claims that a new road will be constructed in Paband National Park.

The media picked up on a report by the Persian-language newspaper Etemad last week that huge construction equipment and machinery had been moved to the “edge of the protected site” and work on the roadway would begin soon.

Reports said construction had not yet begun because the provincial office of the Department of Environment had not approved the plan, “but the department is under increasing pressure to give in and issue permits.”

“If the plan is approved,” reports said, “the road will connect Bandban Village in Mazandaran to Dibaj Village in Semnan. This means that the road will become one of main routes connecting central Iran to the northern regions, causing irreparable damage to one of the three national parks in the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests’ region,” the other two Golestan and Kiasar national parks.

Denying the reports and claims, the governor’s office said in the statement that there are no plans to construct a new road. “The plan is to repair and upgrade the current road (which goes around the protected area).”

Stressing that local officials have no intention of harming the national park, the statement continued: “The project’s entire budget is 4 billion rials ($114,000), which is barely enough to cover the repair costs, let alone build a new road.”

Covering 26,597 hectares, Paband was designated a national park in 2003. The protected site includes diverse animal species such as the Persian leopard, brown bear, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, wild cat, fox, jackal and porcupine.

One of the main threats to the national park is the occasional wildfires which tend to get out of control since the mountainous terrain of the region makes it inaccessible to fire brigades and the region lacks well-equipped aircraft to douse the infernos.