People, Environment

Abr Forest in Semnan Declared Protected Area

The designation allows the DOE to enforce conservation measures.The designation allows the DOE to enforce conservation measures.

Following a directive issued by the High Council for Environment in official Persian newspapers on August 8, Abr Forest in Shahroud, Semnan Province, was legally designated as a protected area, giving the Department of Environment the mandate to enforce conservation measures in the area.

Based on Article 4 of the Hunting and Fishing Law, directives of the council come into effect 20 days after their publication in newspapers, which means the forest has been a protected area since August 28 but it was only made public on September 4.

Efforts to declare the site a protected area began in 2008 by the DOE and the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization and the proposal was eventually approved in January 2015.

“However, the directive could not be enforced because Semnan’s governor-general was initially opposed to it and it took some time to gain his consent,” Reza Eqtedar, deputy at DOE’s Office of Habitats and Protected Areas Affairs, told Financial Tribune.

To ensure optimized protection and enable park rangers to patrol the woods, a park rangers’ station has been established in the forest funded by Semnan’s office of DOE.

Located 45 kilometers northeast of Shahroud, Abr (Persian for Cloud) Forest covers 14,000 hectares and is part of the ancient Caspian Hyrcanian forests.  

Due to high humidity and special climatic conditions surrounding Alborz Mountains, clouds descend to the ground and cover the forest in certain times of the year, which is the logic behind its naming.

On February 9, 2011, the forest was inscribed as the  114th natural heritage site by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

During the previous government, 150 members of the parliament wrote a letter to the erstwhile president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demanding the construction of a road through the forest.

However, a group of environmentalists signed a petition calling on the government to declare the forest a protected area. After a drawn-out struggle between the DOE and proponents of the construction of the road, the High Council for Environment declared the forest a protected area.