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The destruction of the environment in Iran

Deforestation, drying up major lakes, water shortages, soil erosion, and heavy air pollution in Tehran, Khuzestan, and other provinces are just some of the major environmental issues in Iran which have not been addressed by Iran’s environmental officials. While part of the problem can be attributed to global climate change, the regime must be blamed for adopting wrong policies which have aggravated the conditions. The regime has issued permission to raze large parts of Iran’s forests to smuggle wood out of the country and to construct hotels and buildings in the natural course of rivers to earn more money. They export the country’s water for economic and political profits. They have sold out the Caspian Sea and allowed Chinese companies to use industrial fishing methods causing irreversible damage to the environment in Iran.
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By doing so, they have virtually eliminated the source of income for local people and vastly contributed to the destructions caused by natural disasters such as the case in the flash floods which washed away large parts of the country in the spring of 2019 and afterward.

Half of Iran’s northern forests razed

According to state-run media, half of Iran’s northern forests have been destroyed in the past four decades.

Most of Iran’s forests are in the north of Iran which borders the Caspian Sea where the inhabitants of the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan enjoy a subtropical climate.

But a member of the Iran Environment and Natural Resources Network Coordination Council revealed in 2018 that deforestation has destroyed half of Iran’s northern forests.

“According to the data of The Natural Resources and Forestry Organization, during the past 40 years, the area of the northern forests has gone from 3,600,000 to 1,800,000 hectares,” Massoud Molana said.

“When half of the forests are gone, the rain is no longer a blessing and turns into floods,” he added.

The environment official said that rain had decreased by 20 percent in the past 50 years while floods had increased by 50 percent.

Air pollution

Air pollution is increasing and biodiversity in Iran has suffered unprecedented destruction, as statistics released by the Global Carbon Project show that Iran is the seventh-largest air polluter in the world with an annual emission of 648 million tons of carbon dioxide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had in 2018 put Tehran in the category of ‘most polluted cities in the world,’ while the World Bank in its 2018 report said the city accounts for 4,000 of the 12,000 deaths due to air pollution in Iran annually.


Drought and water shortage

Iran’s groundwater resources are running out. Iran consumes more than 85 percent of its freshwater resources annually, while global statistics show that more than 60 percent of water consumption is a sign of crisis and water stress.


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which dominates the country’s Armed Forces and economy, has had an extremely destructive role in this regard. The IRGC changed the path of rivers and built numerous dams in the wrong locations to serve the regime’s nuclear and military projects. The drying of Lake Urmia, Zayandeh Rood river, and other major rivers in Khuzestan and Kohgilouyeh, and Boyer Ahmad provinces are attributed to the IRGC projects.


The unfettered construction of dams and wrong plans to transfer water from basin to basin to provide for the regime’s nuclear weapons program, the unmanaged establishment of industries, and the emphasis on unprincipled and high-consumption agriculture to reap profits for the ruling clique, have accelerated the process of desertification and drought in Iran.


The regime’s inefficient management of the share of natural water from available resources has boosted desertification in Iran. Desertification is no longer just the drought of lands and aqueducts, but the decline in soil fertility and increased migration are also among its consequences.


One of the causes of unwanted migration of villagers and expansion of slums around metropolises is water shortage and drought in different parts of the country.

The clerical regime does not give priority to environmental protection. The Environmental Protection Organization is a small department with a limited budget which is only one-tenth of a percent of the country’s budget.

Iran is now among the countries with the highest rate of soil erosion, exploitation of water resources, desertification, and so forth. Today, there’s not a single living wetland or lake in the country.

The Iranian regime does not allow citizens’ participation to ensure environmental sustainability and keeps arresting conservationists under various pretests. Many activists have been arrested and detained for forming groups and trying to conserve their environment.

Association pour l’Avenir urges the international human rights organizations to take urgent action to secure the release of the detained conservationists .

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