TEHRAN – A total of 210 projects of natural resources and watershed management will be inaugurated by February 11, the head of the Forests, Rangelands, and Watershed Management Organization, has announced.
“A sum of 3.9 trillion rials (nearly $14.1 million) has been spent on these projects,” ILNA quoted Masoud Mansour as saying on Tuesday.
These projects include watershed management, aquifer, flood control, desertification, forest development, rangeland rehabilitation, conservation, and support projects aimed at conserving water and soil, protecting vegetation, preventing erosion, and reducing drought and nutrition damage, he explained.
The national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year 1401, which starts on March 21, has allocated 16 trillion rials (about $53 million) for watershed management, which is nearly fourfold of the budget for the current year.
With the implementation of watershed management projects, 9 tons per hectare of water erosion has been reduced annually, and in mountainous areas, 570 cubic meters of water have been extracted per hectare.
Moreover, some 1000 cubic meters of water per hectare is stored in underground aquifers and prevents the entry of 4 cubic meters of sediment behind the dams.
Iran to be among countries with over 10% of forest
Mansour further expressed hope that with public participation in the implementation of these projects, a big step to be taken towards improving the level of natural resources and watershed management, stating that 500 million saplings were planted within 14 years with the participation of people and 70 institutions in the form of a campaign called “green and strong Iran”.
According to the campaign, 6,700 hectares of land throughout the country will undergo vegetation planting this year based on the ecological potential of the regions.
Iran is one of the countries with low forest coverage, however, the country will be among the countries that are covered by forest by more than 10 percent, by the end of the campaign, he also said.
Ali Banagar, head of the forestry scientific association affiliated with the Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands, said in December 2021 that the trend of deforestation in Iran is worrisome.
“Apart from natural factors, villa and road construction, development projects, dam construction, wood smuggling, encroachment on forests and land grabbing, forest fires, coal mining, livelihood activities including agriculture, providing fuel and excessive livestock grazing, social and economic problems, and exploitation of natural resources, pests, environmental pollution and landfills, and many other factors have reduced the quantity and quality of forests.
Each of these variables has increased or decreased in recent years, but the result is alarming,” he explained.
Between 2015 and 2020, approximately 12,000 hectares of forests across the country were wiped out annually, Reza Bayani an official with Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, said.
He went on to say that the country’s forests are estimated at 14.3 million hectares, the country’s northern forests have been estimated at 2,080,000 million hectares about 60 years ago, and today it is stretching to 2,004,000 hectares taking replanted areas into account.