People, Environment

Soil Degradation, Erosion Neglected

Some 16 million tons of soil are subject to erosion yearly.Some 16 million tons of soil are subject to erosion yearly.

In spite of the rapidly deteriorating quality of soil in Iran, it has not received the attention it desperately needs.

Erosion, pollution and nutrient degradation are among major issues affecting soil fertility.  Some 16 million tons of soil are subject to erosion yearly which, according to an official at the Department of Environment, is higher than the global average, ILNA reported.

The cost of soil erosion in Iran is said to trump the country’s oil revenue.

Soil contamination is also a critical issue in the country. Based on a law passed in 1967, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has to be reduced and requires constant monitoring and assessment to detect traces of chemicals in a food product.

"This is while substances used by farmers are still subsidized, which promote excessive use," Saeed Motessaddi, DOE's deputy for human environment, was quoted as saying by the news agency.

"Even if farms are irrigated with the best quality water, food products will still be unhealthy due to soil pollution thatis primarily caused by the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers," he said, stressing that the fertile soil around the city of Tehran is polluted today.

Carelessness on the part of authorities and noncompliance with regulations by farmers "have allowed these dangerous chemicals to end up in our food".

Motessaddi stressed that despite being the source of fertility and growth, soil preservation has been neglected for years.

DOE has taken several measures in the past few years to protect soil, including the preparation of a bill on soil conservation, which has been submitted to the parliament. The bill, which is yet to be reviewed, contains two parts: contamination and erosion.

"If this bill becomes law, it will enable the effective management of soil resources and more control over polluting activities. It allows us to enforce the law," he said.  

Lawmakers in the past month have been busy reviewing and approving articles in the Clean Air and Wetlands Conservation bills, and Motessaddi is hopeful that the Soil Protection Bill will be next in line.

DOE has also prepared an atlas of soil pollutants clearly showing what chemicals are toxic and what must not be used.

Despite the widespread use of fertilizers, the country's fertile soil is poor in terms of nutrients and its salinity is also on the rise.

"This indicates that the improper use of chemicals will not bring about sustainability. On the contrary, it will speed up soil degradation," the official said.  


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints