People, Environment

Excessive Grazing Threatens Ecosystems

Excessive Grazing Threatens EcosystemsExcessive Grazing Threatens Ecosystems

More than 80% of the country’s natural ecosystems are on the verge of total destruction as a result of excessive cattle grazing, says an official at the Department of Environment.

Farhad Dabiri, deputy for natural environment and biodiversity at DOE, also said the disappearance of key ecological species like the butterfly is a major indicator of the phenomenon.

He pointed to farm goats as an example of domestic species that have harmed the environment.

“Due to their compatibility with the country’s climatic conditions and rural breeding methods and their reliance on natural forage as the main food source, goats have a key role in rural and nomadic cultures, but have caused severe damage to natural resources,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

The expansion of livestock farming, especially goats that depend on grasslands, has gravely impacted vegetation, leading to a decline in soil permeability, soil erosion, flood and increase in sediment, particularly in dry and mountainous regions.

In addition to competing for food with wild herbivores, farm animals can transmit communicable diseases such as ovine rinderpest (also known as PPR) and foot-and-mouth disease the animals found in the wilderness.

“Destruction of pastures and outbreak of PPR among wild animals are among the hazards of unsustainable and unsystematic development of livestock farming,” Dabiri said, adding that cooperation of relevant organizations is essential to controlling and eliminating the problem.

The official stressed that although it is essential to support famers and respect ancient traditions and cultural values, the adverse effects of unmethodical practices and damage to wildlife caused by excessive grazing, especially in recent years, must not be ignored.

“If practiced within the frameworks of tried-and-true management schemes on animal breeding, feeding and hygiene, animal husbandry will not damage the environment,” said Dabiri.

A shift from traditional to industrial and semi-industrial farming, systematic inspection of pastures in protected areas and control over communicable diseases can help preserve wildlife and prevent the destruction of ecosystems.