Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 16
By Khalid Kazimov - Trend:
Iranian Environment Department is facing lack of funds and human resources, according to Esmail Kahrom, Deputy Head of Department of Environment at Iranian President's Office.
Speaking to Trend Nov. 16, Kahrom said 80 to 85 percent of desertification in Iran is caused by destruction of forests, and noted that the measures taken to protect forests are unsuccessful due to lack of funds and human resources.
"Iran's Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization, as well as, Environment Department are the poorest organizations in terms of budget," Kahrom further told Trend.
"Having taken a look at the rate of destruction of forests in Iran, we find out the rate of desertification is very high," he added.
He further said that according to recent figures released by the NASA, Iran loses about 1-1.5 percent of its forests annually, and noted that the unauthorized pasturage of livestock is a second factor causing destruction of forests.
"Wood smuggling and unauthorized cut downs, wildfires, as well as livestock are among the main reasons causing destruction of the forests," said Kahrom.
He also said that the number of wildfires throughout Iran is shocking.
Desertification "silent earthquake"
Earlier on November 15, an Iranian environmental official warned against the increasing risk of desertification in the country.
Abbas Kargar, an official with Iran Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization, said that some seven million hectares of land are at the risk of turning into desert in Iran.
Addressing an environmental conference on Sunday, Kargar called for people's cooperation in reducing the risk and said the entire problem cannot be resolved with help of state budget only.
He also called the desertification a "silent earthquake" to highlight what horrific results it would have.
Kargar also elaborated on the measures taken to tackle the problem and said that despite the low level of rain and snow falls in Iran, over 2.5 million hectares of land have been turned into forest.
A recent study by the NASA has predicted that one third of earth, including Iran, will suffer a new drought. Pointing to the gradual melting of winter snow, which helps feed water going to farms, cities and ecosystems across the greatest part of the world, the report warned that this resource may soon be critically imperiled.
Earlier in June, Razieh Lak, an Iranian official with the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations Organization, said Iran is the source of 15 percent of dust storms in the world.
Military conflicts in the region and unused farmlands have caused the flow of dust storms from Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia towards Iran, a country where about 20 percent of total area of 164 million hectares is a desert.
Issa Kalantari, secretary general of Iran's House of Farmers, and former agriculture minister, warned earlier that water crisis in the country was more of a threat to the country than "Israel, the US or political infighting."
Kalantari went on to say that if the water issue is not addressed, Iran could become a place where no one can live.
Given all the facts it seems that if international organizations and Tehran do not take a serious measure to stop desertification a terrible catastrophe will hit Iran.