People, Environment

Forest Protection Clause Proposed for Clean Air Bill

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has proposed the addition of an article to the Clean Air Bill that aims to protect forests by imposing a ban on logging for 10 years.

During a meeting of Majlis Agriculture Commission to further discuss the Clean Air Bill on Sunday, Larijani proposed the addition as part of attempts to ensure a per capita green space of at least 15 square meters, IRNA reported.  

“Planting trees, expanding green spaces and irrigating with recycled wastewater are essential but long-term measures. Therefore, it is better to ban the use of forests’ resources for 10 years,” he said. 

The top lawmaker stressed that contracts allowing companies to exploit forests must also be terminated with losses compensated from the Environment Development Fund and heavy fines must be levied on violators. 

Larijani’s proposal is seen by some as a strategy to bolster the chances of forests receiving the protection they need.

A forest protection bill, which also aims to impose a 10-year ban on forest-related activities in the northern regions, has been gathering dust in the parliament for well over a year, whereas the Clean Air Bill has been discussed regularly in the past few months, with lawmakers having already approved one of its 35 articles.

Critics maintain that the forest bill is redundant because forest management schemes currently in place help protect forests and limit overexploitation of resources, while creating jobs for many.

They claim banning the use of timber will force operators of the schemes to abandon their jobs because it makes no financial sense to manage resources that are not used.

They also assert that timber smugglers are the ones hurting forests, but the bill strictly targets the legal exploitation of these resources, which is illogical.

The bill does allow for felling of dead, broken and diseased trees.

The pause in using forest resources is expected by experts to allow Caspian Hyrcanian forests, which run parallel to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea in the north, to recover and help promote their sustainable use. 

Larijani’s proposal does not only include forests in the north, but all over the country.

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