UNESCO Registration Eludes Mount Damavand

UNESCO Registration Eludes Mount DamavandUNESCO Registration Eludes Mount Damavand

Efforts to inscribe Mount Damavand on the UNESCO World Heritage List are futile as long as mining activities take place on the mountain, CHN reported.

Mining in the foothills of Damavand, 70 km northwerst of Tehran, has tarnished the mesmerizing natural landscape, acting as an obstacle to the recognition of the mountain by UNESCO.

For several years, the Department of Environment (DoE) and activists alike have tried to raise awareness regarding the state of the mountain and activities that prevent it from being recognized by the world’s foremost authority on heritage sites.

In spite of all the effort, mining permits are still issued, encouraging more mining and, by extension, raising demand for road construction which further alters the natural scenery.

In response to widespread complaints, head of the judiciary Ayatlollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani issued an order last August banning all mining activity above the 2200-meter level.

Nine months have passed since the order, yet due to the wide expanse of the region implementing the order has proven to be difficult, and mining activities continue.

According to the head of National Tourism Committee Mohammad-Ali Fayazi, concerned people have been writing to the office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), asking officials to accelerate the implementation of the order mandating the cessation of all mining activities.

“The natural beauty of Damavand is being blemished and we need to step up our efforts,” said Farhad Nazari, head of the cultural and historical registration office at ICHHTO. “Mount Damavand deserves international recognition.”

The DoE is pursuing the matter of sealing the mines, Nazari said, adding that cooperation between the two bodies is key to facilitating Damavand’s registration.

Damavand is a volcanic mountain, which makes it rich in lightweight rocks that are widely used in construction for insulation and to reduce the weight of buildings. Mining operations in Damavand are in effect cutting into the mountain’s surface using heavy machinery, which has left holes as deep as 20 meters in different areas.

Damavand, which is the natural habitat of a wide variety of flora such as tulips and poppies, has also suffered a serious loss of natural vegetation due to the mining.