People, Environment

Forests Fear Encroachers

Inadequate budget and lack of workforce are threatening the integrity of forest protection measures, according to a senior forestry official.

Speaking to Tasnim News Agency, Mostafa Kiakajouri, deputy for planning and development at the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, lamented the organization's low budget and appealed those responsible to be more generous when allocating funds.

"Forests and natural reserves are a country's assets that need to be diligently protected. However, that cannot happen as long as we have neither the manpower nor financial resources," he said.

Criticizing the apathy of officials at the Administrative and Recruitment Affairs Organization toward FRWO's predicament, he said for every staff member that retires, the forestry organization is supposed to receive a permit and funding to hire a replacement.

"That's what the law clearly states. Yet, the recruitment affairs organization has been less than cooperative in this regard," Kiakajouri said, adding that some 5,500 administrative staff and park rangers have retired in recent years.

"Due to their lack of cooperation, some 40% of positions at FRWO are vacant," he said.

To compensate for the lack of workforce, the organization appealed to NGOs and local communities to help patrol and protect forests from smugglers and potential arsonists, but that also hit a major obstacle.

"Those who have been helping have not been paid in four months and pursuing the matter at the Management and Planning Organization has yet to yield results," he said.

Activists have long complained about the poor allocation of budgets to environment-related entities, namely FRWO and the Department of Environment.

Early March, Masoud Shakiba, and environmentalist, blamed insufficient environmental budgets and inadequate laws for the protection of woodlands.

“There are not many forests in Iran and those in the north are not likely to survive long enough for the next generation to benefit from,” he said.

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