Planting Trees to Weather Dust Storms

Planting Trees to Weather Dust StormsPlanting Trees to Weather Dust Storms

Commonly known as the 'Tree Man', Mehdi Nazari has now planted almost 60,000 trees in the western Illam Province to alleviate the harmful impact of dust and particle storms.

Having won several environmental awards, he says his primary motive is to have a fair share in fighting the dust storms battering the southern and southwestern regions for months.

Speaking to the Persian-language daily 'Iran', Nazari says, "We need to mobilize efforts if we want to put an end to the predicament" that has taken a heavy toll on public health, closed schools, cancelled flights, hurt the regional economy, and last month led to peaceful protests  in the city of Ilam.

He appealed to civilian groups and government organizations to cooperate to avert a catastrophe. Stressing the scale and scope of the "fundamental problem," Nazari said "it would be rather naïve to contemplate that one organization is responsible" for the environmental degradation visiting the country for years.

"Protecting the environment is everyone's responsibility and Iranians understand cooperation. A case in point was 1980-88 Iraq-imposed war when the nation at large helped and supported the armed forces" to repel the military aggression and protect the homeland.

Nazari took stock of harmful human activities contributing to the worsening environmental conditions on the universal scale. "Dust storms, forest dieback, global warming, and desiccation of water bodies are fallouts of environmentally-destructive human activities."

Among the best ways to curb environmental disasters is to increase reforestation efforts and promote cooperation, the government-owned newspaper quoted him as saying.

Illam Province, which borders Iraq, has been suffering from dust and particulate pollution for years. While the region's air quality has not been as bad as the oil province of Khuzestan in the south, provincial officials recently shut schools and government offices due to the abysmal quality of air. Dust pollution is said to be responsible also for the demise of oak trees in the province.

Much of the storms and dust particulates stem from neighboring Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  Tehran has often called on the government in Baghdad to take workable measures to reduce the plight, help avert the loss of wetlands and check the dangerous pattern of desertification.