Thursday, September 8, 2011
As we traveled from the Aras river to the southwest we entered the perimeters of Kiamaki Protected Area and further down the Arasbaran Forests Protected Area. This trip was reminiscent of the many visits I had as Head of the Department of Environment some years ago, only now I was with the family and not the DOE directors and personnel. The pristine Arasbaran forests of Iran are recognized as one of the important biodiversity hotspots of the globe, meaning that the diversity of flora and fauna in this region is very high.
As we enjoyed the magnificent scenes, news of the street clashes and arrests of protestors in Urumieh and Tabriz who had objected to the trend of drought in Lake Urumieh brought us back to the realities of environmental degradation. In the previous week ,I was asked to make several interviews on the policies and measures taken during my tenure to combat the trend leading to the drying up of the Urumieh National Park. I had given detailed explanations on the research project leading to a management scheme and the measures and strategies we had taken to engage both the water and agriculture sectors on this matter to provide the water required by the lake on a regular basis. The DOE had warned the officials in 1998 we had layed out a road map for the protection of the Lake. Many parts of that project were underway in 2004 . These protection schemes and strategies were later abandoned by the ninth government and only reconsidered recently after serious protests rocked the region. No one can dispute the fact that the environment was never a priority for the government of Mr. Ahmadinejad.