Baku, Azerbaijan, June 7
By Fatih Karimov - Trend:
Iran seeks assistance from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to revive its Urmia Lake, said Abbas Kargar, an official with Iran Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization.
"FAO experts have paid visits to Urmia Lake. We held sessions with them and wanted them to help us. We are planning to sign an agreement with FAO in this regard," Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Kargar as saying on June 7.
He added that one million saplings will be planted around the lake in autumn this year.
About $5.2 million was paid in the past Iranian fiscal year, which ended on March 20, to combat desertification of lands around the lake, he said, adding that the budget has been increased to $17.5 million in the current Iranian fiscal year.
The FAO representative to Tehran, Serge Nakouzi said in Dec. 2014 that serious and urgent measures should be taken to revive the lake, while the lake's drying crisis affects the entire region's climate.
FAO is ready to take part in the issue, the envoy said, adding the organization has a special mission in topics such as Urmia Lake crisis.
Lake Urmia in north-western Iran has been experiencing its worst drought for many years, where over 90 percent of its area has dried up. The level has been declining since 1995.
Officials have warned that if serious steps are not taken, the lake will be turned into a swamp within a few years, which will force millions of Iranians to migrate to greener pastures.