Analysis by PMOI/MEK
April 7, 2019 - In recent years, floods devastated many areas of Iran. More than a natural factor, the cause of most floods is the destructive policies of the clerical regime which has triggered the devastation of the environment by causing the demolition of floodgates, forests and pastures. The regime has even refused dredging and cleaning up rivers for years.
While the floods are spreading to almost all the country, mentioning two outstanding examples makes it very clear why these floods and damages they entail are not the result of atmospheric conditions. The dictatorship of the clerical regime in Iran, which is making unscientific constructions everywhere, has the most important role in destruction of this country.
In this article, we try to look at the catastrophic destruction of forests of Iran.
Destruction of Iran’s forests
One of the crimes of the mullahs’ regime is the destruction of a large part of Iran's forests. Destruction of forests is one of the deadly crises that threatens the environment of Iran in every detail.
Disasters such as floods, water shortage, soil erosion, dust, and desertification, which are getting increasingly catastrophic every day, have all been systematically created by the regime, which only intended to plunder Iran’s resources to fill up the personal bank accounts of its officials, export terrorism and stabilize the foundations of its dictatorial government.
Some of the reasons behind the destruction of Iranian forests are profiteering from selling trees, building luxury houses in forests, and razing the forest to change its puropse use the land for building factories etc. by government institutions and agents.
According to statements by media and regime insiders, 45,000 acers of forests have been destroyed in the last 40 years.
It is not only the experts and state media that acknowledge a large part of Iran’s forests have disappeared and the remainder is in danger. In 2011, the representative of FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) in Tehran expressed concerns about the destruction of Iranian forests.
The UN official said in an interview with state-run IRNA news agency that Iran is one of 70 developing countries across the world that has little forest cover. He also pointed to the fast process of destroying Iran's forests, saying: “The country's forest destruction is at a faster pace than most areas of the world.”Impact of forests on avoiding the floods.
The role of forests in preventing flood
Forest clearing was one of the main causes of floods in Golestan province in March 2019. While Iran has lost half of its northern forests, this volume of rain falls on the bare ground with no barrier to control it causes floods.
Trees in woodland areas are supposed to be physical barriers, and when the rain drops fall amid the leaves and branches, they can slowly penetrate the soil and enter underground aquifers. Therefore, the risk of flooding becomes low. Water penetrability in a forest is 400 times more than a pasture and in pasture is 100 times more than a farm. Therefore, forests have the highest penetration rates of water and their role in keeping water in place is greater than the largest dams.
The destruction of Iran’s northern forests
The process of destroying Iran’s forests is happening so fast that all the forests of north Iran will be destroyed in the next 30 years, and there will be no forest in this area anymore.
Masoud Molana, member of National Environmental Coordination Council, told ISNA news agency on October 24, 2018, that “According to the statistics of natural resources and forestry, the forests of North have reduced from 3,600,000 to 1,800,000 acres over the past 40 years. Once we have destroyed half of the forests, rain will no longer be blessing and every precipitation turns into a flood.”
Also, the ISNA news agency, quoting the Engineer Anoushirvan Najafi, deputy state officer of the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote: “annually, 6603 acers of northern forest resources are being completely destroyed.”
Abusing the northern forests by people affiliated with the regime is so unprecedented that the state-run “Shoar” web site writes: “For more than a decade, the high-quality lands of the North have been exploited unjustifiably; the lands are faced with agricultural recession and this rich place which is getting neglected has been turned into villas and residential complexes to welcome tourists and travelers. The multi-year influx of mass-constructers and wealthy individuals, even somewhat well-known people, to the green perspective of Mazandaran, instead of the development of tourism and job creation, has led to the destruction of natural resources, and its only achievement is the destruction of indigenous economies and causing inequalities in various levels of society. This shift in land use and mass-construction in forests and beaches not only did not promote tourism, but also caused irreparable losses to the nature of the North of Iran. Many famous people and some self-appointed officials set out to highlight a region to increase the price of the lands in that area and earn huge profits at the cost of degrading that beautiful environment. Some of these areas include Khezer Shahr in Babolsar, Arbukhleh in Ramsar, Saadatabad in Nur, etc.”
In terms of performance of this system and its impact on destruction of forests and floods in the northern provinces of the country, Ismail Kahrom, an environmental expert of the regime, said: “This happens because we choose unqualified people to do the important jobs. Once one of the environmental officials said in a statement a few days ago: ‘400 acers of a forest is nothing and it is replaceable!’ 400 acers of forests are gone, and he is talking about it without knowing what the forest is and what 400 acres means." Kahrom added, “Ask these people why did you let four times more than the existing capacity of sheep and cattle in the meadows to eliminate natural resources.”
A breathing plan for the northern forests of Iran
After the problems of forests got worse and the public's attention to this catastrophe got intense, the regime, which had destroyed more than half of the forests in the north of the country, approved a “Breathing Plan for the Forests of the North” in parliament. According to the plan, harvesting trees, even dry ones, would beillegal and forbidden.
But at the same time, Kazem Nurmofidi, Nurullah Tabarsei and Zainalabedin Ghorbani were representatives of the supreme leader in three northern provinces of Iran who were opposed to the ban.
In a letter to Ali Larijani ,the Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament), they called for refusing the plan.
Neumfidi and Tabarse are currently representing Khamenei in the provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran, and Ghorbani had the same position in Gilan until the last year.
Tabarsey’s children have many privileges of exploiting the northern forests in province of Golestan.The Implementation of this plan is still in a state of ambiguity. The plan is being obstructed by a lack fo funds as well as the regime’s robberies of that small amount of fund allocated, and the lucrative business of looting the forests.
The Breathing Plan for the Northern Forests also made it easier for forest demolishers to invade the forests west of Zagros Mountains and trigger the catastrophe of destroying Zagros forests.
“Although the implementation of the Breathing Plan brought happiness to many who were concerned about the destruction of Mazandaran forests due to the unrestricted harvesting of trees, but this pleasure did not last long and increasing smuggling of wood and emergence of black markets along with profiteering by opportunists triggered new problems. This incident was the beginning of a new era of looting the forests of Mazandaran. Unfortunately, along with the increased smuggling of wood, other factors such as building villas, roads, and construction of recreational and tourist centers and so on, appeared to be an excuse for many to cut trees and occupy lands in recent years,” stated the state-run website “Bulletin News” about “Breathing Plan for the Forests of the North” on March 04, 2019.
“There is still no plan to manage the idea of breathing of the forests.” Said Dr Shaban Shataei Jouibari, head of forest science faculties at Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to ISNA on August 08, 2018.
Destruction of forests in mountains of Zagros
The destruction of the forests is not limited to the northern parts of Iran. It is also very active in the western strip of the country in Zagros Mountains, where the forests are getting harvested very severely.
On March 03, 2019, ISNA news agency quoted Shirzad Najafi, Director General of Natural Resources of Lorestan Province in the west of the country, saying that the forests of Zagros were not a subject of prohibition of harvesting the woods. Unfortunately, much of the forests of Zagros have been destroyed during the prohibition of harvesting the forests of the North and one day this will become critical in the country.” He also reminded: “Every day, 2,000 lumber trucks are shipped to the north of the country by any means.”
On February 26, 2109,IRNA news agency revealed a new catastrophe about the destruction of the forests of Zagros. “The forests of Zagros once supplied more than 40 percent of Iran's water consumption, and the current water shortage in the central regions of Iran, is the result of destruction of these resources,” the news agency stated.
IRNA also wrote about the destruction of these forests: “Forests of ‘Maraneh’” in Marivan, with 800 years of age, are disappearing. Chia Green Society in Marivan reported that the forests of this region are one of the oldest and the most valuable forests in the region of Zagros. Despite being considered inaccessible, these forests are also are being invaded.”“In this regard, the environment of the region, apart from vegetation and its biological species, are invaded and plundered by the wood industry companies located in Tehran, Hamedan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Arak and Sari,” IRNA stated in a conversation with Mohammad Naji Kani Sanani, CEO of the Green Chia Association.
The persons causing these damages are the principal members active in the central factories and giant wood industries in the metropolitan areas. Although they could be well controlled inside these areas, but unfortunately there is no determination to get involved with them; not in the provincial centers nor in smaller cities. Now, if environmental NGOs or the Natural Resources Organization wanted to confront these invaders, they wouldn’t have judicial and legal support. In the best case, they will set up a law case and will be obliged also to pay a small fine. The judiciary has no proper and restrictive mechanism to resolve these kinds of issues. These destructive forces pay the fines and turn the national and environmental arenas into construction fields. The natural environment, for which there is no price, is turning into buildings and private villas, or providing raw materials for wood industries with paying some amount of money for the fine.
Kani Sanani also told IRNA: “Another issue is the transportation of trucks filled with wood and trunks that are being transported via interurban roads. All these roads are toll roads and the trucks need to stop frequently along the road. In each of the provinces, there are almost two of these toll booths and the regulators can easily stop them in these bottlenecks. There is also no determination in the society to fight these forest destroyers. On the other hand, offices like Natural Resources are very limited and cannot do anything in this regard. The people-based organizations don’t have any authority, and what they do best is being active in cultural and educational fields. The same as what we do in our own community. We travelled to all the villages, and we go to schools and public spaces to educate people about environmental subjects. People are also dissatisfied with this situation, but they do not have the power to fight it.”
IRNA news agency clearly shows that it is a systematic plundering that the leaders of this regime are behind it to destroy the forests. This is the reason that regime’s relative offices or even the police do not prevent such institutions and organizations.
“In the past few months, the harvesting of the trees of Zagros and the western jungles of the country has increased dramatically,” Said Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, a member of the regime's parliament from Mahabad.
“The trees of Zagros forests are being shipped to paper mills and neighboring countries and the brokers benefit greatly in this regard.” He criticized the performance of the Environmental Protection Agency. This parliament member has warned that the western forests of Iran are in ruins.
Where is the source of the problem? When we are dealing with a religious dictatorship in which the Supreme Leader has most of the power, we will of course face with such disasters every day. As much as wealth, facilities, natural resources, and even plans and laws and bills are approved in this system, the ruling class and those who are insiders of this dictatorial circle, are the ones who have the power beyond everything and everyone. This circle includes the representatives of the Supreme Leader of this clerical regime who are appointed in provinces or the military and financial empires, including the Revolutionary Guards, which has seized all the resources of Iran to gain the benefit of self-financing and paying the costs of repression and terrorist intervention in the countries of the region.
Under the religious dictatorship of Iran, plans to preserve the nature are nothing but a joke. Government institutions continue to plunder the resources of this country any way. These manipulations are made public only when there are disputes between the different ruling gangs of the regime. At time, the Iranian people only see the tip of the iceberg, while the reality is far beyond what it seems. The depth of the disaster of dictatorial regimes can only be seen after they are overthrown and when the curtains are dropped by people.