People, Environment

Fresh Support for Forest Conservation Bill

Fresh Support for Forest Conservation BillFresh Support for Forest Conservation Bill

A senior lawmaker has voiced his support for a bill aimed at banning any exploitation of forest resources in the country for 10 years to give them time for rehabilitation.

Ali Mohammad Sha’eri, the head of Majlis Agriculture Commission, also told ILNA that the commission is fully prepared to review the bill, which is believed to help Iran’s woodlands, especially the Caspian Hyrcanian forests in the north.     

“After years of unsustainable exploitation, the northern forests are in dire need of a respite for replenishment,” he said.

“While forests are viewed through a financial lens, they are in reality more valuable as habitats that support countless ecosystems, not to mention their key roles in protecting water, air and soil.”

Sha’eri said it is imperative to stop logging in these forests, which calls for management schemes.

In 2013, the government passed a bill titled “Forests’ Recess” that prohibited any commercial exploitation and extraction of hardwood from northern woodlands for 10 years to allow them time for rehabilitation.

The bill was devised in 2013 by the government amid widespread support from environmentalists.

But many activists are not happy with it, arguing that the bill is one-dimensional and addresses only one of many dangers that threaten the country’s woodlands.

Property speculation, constant and ever-increasing livestock grazing in forests, uncontrolled and unsystematic tourism, withdrawal of water from forests for urban, farming and industrial use, mining, road construction, excessive disposal of urban and hospital waste are among the main hazards that the bill fails to consider.

Experts also maintain that the 10-year “recess period” envisioned in the plan is not sufficient to help revive millions of hectares of woodlands razed over the years.

In 1941, Iran’s northern forests covered an area of 3.4 million hectares that shrank to 1.8 million hectares in 2000s. In 2002, the Department of Environment described one-third of this area as damaged woodland and left 1.2 million hectares as pristine forest.