People, Environment

Municipalities Dumping Waste in Northern Forests

About 70% of the waste produced in northern provinces end up in forests.About 70% of the waste produced in northern provinces end up in forests.

All kinds of trash collected from the northern cities of Iran are dumped in the forests, thanks to the outdated and unsanitary methods used by municipalities, according a forestry official.

Hadi Kiadaliri, the head of Forestry Association of Iran, voiced his dismay overt old-fashioned waste management methods in the northern cities , adding that raising public awareness would be futile as long as urban authorities dispose of wastes in forests.

"Waste is disposed with no specialized study on the geological features of the region or the state of groundwater resources. The only standard seems to be that it should be hidden from the public view," he said, claiming to have witnessed tankers emptying wastewater in the forests, Mehr News Agency reported.

Based on his personal observations, Kiadaliri estimated that around 70% of the garbage are disposed in forests, 20% near rivers and about 10% in pastures.

Even worse, the routes used by garbage truck are apparently dotted with all kinds of waste.

"Some drivers do not even take the trouble of carrying the wastes to the determined location and unload the garbage along the route," he said.

Furthermore, the landfills are not fenced and are accessible to people and animals.

This can cause the spread of contaminants and diseases to rural and urban areas and cattle might also feed on these materials. Besides, due to heavy rainfall in the northern areas, waste emulsions can be carried downstream.  

Kiadaliri said Caspian Hyrcanian forests are not suitable sites for waste disposal due to the high levels of groundwater resources.

"The other problem is that the dumping grounds and transporting vehicles are roofless. Pieces of rubbish often get stuck in tree branches along the way," he said.

"These waste materials can even cause forest fires because they release methane, a highly flammable gas."

As part of a project, the association is organizing training workshops for local communities to teach them how to treat wastes and is also placing rubbish bins in designated spots across the forests for picnickers as part of a pilot scheme.

According to Kiadaliri, this is a positive move, but the mass disposal of waste by authorities is the major issue that should be addressed prior to public education.

"We teach local people and travelers not to litter in the forest and instead put them in the bins, but what use is this when the wastes are finally collected by municipal staff and discarded en masse deep in the woods again," he said.

The project team might manage to compel the authorities to issue a directive tasking municipalities to use standard and up-to-date techniques, and import modern waste-burners to dispose of rubbish, turn it into compost or use it to generate electricity.

"Once the authorities' methods are corrected, people must be educated about the matter, the most important of which is waste separation at source," Kiadaliri said.

"This goal will not be attained unless the necessary infrastructure is provided, which is easier said than done." 

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