People, Environment

Gov't to Revoke 15 Logging Licenses

Gov't to Revoke  15 Logging LicensesGov't to Revoke  15 Logging Licenses

Fifteen logging licenses in the Caspian Hyrcanian forests will be revoked by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2017), the head of Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization said.

Addressing a meeting attended by the representatives of environmental NGOs on Friday, Khodakaram Jalali added that 15 logging licenses, which cover around 145,000 hectares of Iran's endangered northern forests, will be canceled, Tasnim News Agency reported.

The move is in line with a recent law adopted by the parliament just over a week ago, which places a complete ban on exploiting Caspian Hyrcanian forests for 10 years.

The ban will be implemented in stages and it will go into full effect in 2020.

"We started suspending logging activities some two months ago, following a directive from the agriculture minister [Mahmoud Hojjati]," said Jalali, who doubles as a deputy agriculture minister.

"Almost 33% of the forests will come under protection by the end of the current fiscal year."

The bill bans the government from renewing logging licenses that expire from the day the bill was approved (Jan. 12).

Furthermore, the administration will not be allowed to issue new licenses to exploit the receding forests. It is also tasked with ensuring that the scheme receives adequate funding for its implementation.

The protection scheme is committed to underpin a three-year-old government directive that only allows diseased, dead and broken trees to be used for timber.

Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters and is expected to reach 13 million cubic meters in five years.

Iran has lined up several measures to alleviate the mounting pressure on forests, such as increasing timber imports from Russia and Ukraine to reduce logging and protect the Caspian Hyrcanian forests.

Tehran currently imports a million cubic meters of timber from Russia and Ukraine annually, but wants to increase the volume fourfold. The goal is to import 10 million cubic meters of wood every year by 2021.

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