People, Travel

Arasbaran Forest Vying for UNESCO Status

Arasbaran Forest Vying for UNESCO StatusArasbaran Forest Vying for UNESCO Status

The project to inscribe Arasbaran Forest in East Azarbaijan Province on the UNESCO World Heritage List is nearing completion, and the site’s dossier will be submitted to the international body once a comprehensive plan to protect the forest is prepared and approved, IRNA reported.

Speaking at a meeting with regional officials, Mohammad Hassan Talebian, cultural heritage deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism. “Arasabaran is among myriad of sites in the country with exceptional potential for ecotourism.”

Describing the region’s tourism potential as “one of the means to sustainable development”, the official urged regional and government officials to join forces and help Iran’s effort to inscribe the forest on the World Heritage List.

Locals stand to gain considerably from the forest’s global recognition. Recognition by UNESCO will help draw tourists from across the world to the region, help create jobs and boost the local economy. Additionally, it could encourage the locals to protect the forest and the delicate ecosystem it supports.

Recalling the obstacles blocking Arasbaran’s bid for UNESCO status, Talebian said the region’s infrastructure is in dire need of an upgrade, but stressed the importance of constructing eco-friendly structures.

One of the distinctive features of Arasbaran Forest, which qualifies it for being inscribed is its plant diversity. It contains one nineteenth of Europe’s plant diversity and one fourth of France’s.    

Arasbaran is a large forest near the Aras River in East Azarbaijan Province. In 1976, about 72,460 hectares of the region were registered as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme.