New Law Comes to Help Save Diminishing Forests

The government is not allowed to issue new licenses to exploit the rapidly diminishing forests.The government is not allowed to issue new licenses to exploit the rapidly diminishing forests.

Lawmakers on Thursday approved the long-awaited Forest Protection Bill, which places a 10-year ban on exploiting the rapidly diminishing northern forests.

The ban will go into effect in 2020, inviting criticism from certain media outlets that claimed the delay in implementing the ban would give greedy timber companies free rein over the Caspian Hyrcanian forests for another three years.

However, Khodakaram Jalali, head of the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, denied the claims, telling ISNA that the protection scheme is already underway.

“The plan is being implemented gradually and in stages,” he said. “Almost 33% of the forests will come under protection by the end of the current fiscal year in March.”

The bill bans the government from renewing logging licenses that expire from the day the bill was approved until 2020.

From now on, the government will not be allowed to issue new licenses to exploit the receding forests. The administration is also tasked with ensuring that the scheme receives adequate funding for its implementation.

The protection scheme is committed to underpin a three-year-old government directive that only allows diseased, dead and broken trees to be used for timber by placing a 10-year ban on exploiting forest resources.

Article 2 of Section 2 of the bill allows construction work in the vicinity of the forests as long as the projects have all the necessary permits from the forest authority.

Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters and is expected to reach 13 million cubic meters in five years.

Iran has lined up several measures to alleviate the mounting pressure on forests, such as increasing timber imports from Russia and Ukraine to reduce logging and protect the Caspian Hyrcanian forests.

Tehran currently imports a million cubic meters of timber from Russia and Ukraine annually, but wants to increase the volume four times. The goal is to import 10 million cubic meters of wood every year by 2021.


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