People, Environment

JICA to Help Iran in Forest Management

JICA will help Iran carry out plans to improve land use and water management.JICA will help Iran carry out plans to improve land use and water management.

Japan and Iran have agreed to implement the second phase of a plan to protect and manage forests and rangelands along Karoun River, the only navigable river in Iran.

The project in southwestern Iran began with the 2010 agreement between the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Iran's Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization. It was aimed at protecting and restoring forests and rangelands, and increasing income and improving the welfare of those living in the five villages of Bazoft County in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province.

Following the success of the first phase, Iranian and JICA officials decided to extend the agreement and expand the scheme to include four more provinces, Jamejam Online reported. Ali Mohammadi Moqaddam, the head of the provincial office of FRWO, noted that under the deal, JICA will help Iran carry out plans to improve land use and water management.

The first phase of the scheme had a budget of 45 billion rials ($1.1 million), with JICA supplying 80% and Iran the rest.

"The second phase will cover over 7 million hectares and encompass the provinces of Khuzestan, Isfahan, Fars, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad and Chaharmahal," he said.

The heavy discharge of Karoun has diminished in recent years due to a combination of natural and manmade causes, including soil erosion, deforestation, land degradation and overgrazing of grasslands.

Among the more immediate threats to the river are its high salinity due to the Gotvand Dam, and pollution caused by industrial and urban waste.

Based on the agreement, a team of Japanese experts will be stationed in Iran to train Iranian experts and park rangers, while an Iranian delegation will be annually dispatched to Japan for training. Major projects JICA has so far implemented in Iran include Anzali Wetland Ecological Management Project, Capacity Development on Air Pollution in Tehran, the Community-Based Sustainable Development Master Plan of Qeshm Island for the establishment of an "eco-island", Development and Implementation of Environmental Conservation and Management of Southern Coastal Areas of Iran, and Developing Environmental Friendly Technologies in Iranian Power Sector in Hormozgan Province.

Karoun is the most brimful and only navigable river in Iran with access to international waters (it flows into the Persian Gulf). It has been a major source of drinking water for Khuzestan and a top attraction of its capital city, Ahvaz.

About 725 kilometers long, Karoun originates in the Zardkouh mountains of Bakhtiari District in Zagros Mountain Range and takes in water from tributaries, such as Dez and Kouhrang, before passing through Ahvaz.

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