People, Environment

Legal Vacuum Harming Environment

Legal Vacuum Harming EnvironmentLegal Vacuum Harming Environment

Decades-old regulations and a lack of laws have contributed to years of environmental degradation that has now plagued Iran, according to a legal expert at the Department of Environment.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the Iran International Environment Exhibition in Tehran on Sunday, Daryoush Karimi, the  head of the department's Legal Affairs Office, said, "From a legal perspective, environmental law is a very young concept. We do not yet have sufficient laws to protect the environment—there's a vacuum."

As reported by ISNA, the official also pointed to "outdated regulations" that have exacerbated Iran's environmental problems.

"The majority of our regulations are three or four decades old," he added. Driving his point home, Karimi said hunting and fishing regulations were devised in the 1980s, while anti-air pollution laws date back to 1975.

"There is not a single mention of dust and sand storms in the anti-pollution law, so measures were not taken to prevent their occurrence," he said.

"Our relationship with the environment has changed and we need to devise new laws to reflect that."

  Gov't Funding Dubious Projects

Karimi said over 200 development projects lack environmental assessment studies. This makes the environmental nature of these projects dubious.

"To make it worse, 70% of their budgets are funded by government sources," he said, noting that for the same reason, no one disputes that there is a legal vacuum in the field of environment. Citing figures by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the official said forests covered 24 million hectares of Iran in the 1960s, whereas in 2014 the figure dropped to 11.5 million hectares.

"We lost more than half of our forestlands at that time, and not all of it is due to illegal logging," Karimi said.

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