Forestry policies, institutions and programmes
The economic role of forests became important in the nineteenth century when the exploitation of the northern forests of the country, mainly for timber for export, was transferred to foreign contractors. In addition, before the nationalization of the forests in 1962 some landowners exploited their own forest lands. Although the High Council for Forest, Range and Soil was established in 1951 and forest management regulations were ratified in 1958, forest areas continued to be exploited by foreign enterprises and forest owners.
In 1959, the first forest management plan was prepared and implemented in the Caspian area. Forestry plans covered only limited areas until 1963, when nationalization of forests led to the preparation of forestry and exploitation plans on a large scale. Multiple-use forestry plans are now based on non-wood products with wood production exclusively to cover local needs for fuelwood and fine wood industry. Fisheries, apiculture, animal husbandry and fodder production are integrated in forestry planning in suitable areas.
In Iran, forestry is in the hands of the Forestry and Range Organization, under the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad-e-Sazandegi. The Forestry and Range Organization gives special importance to rural development and people¿s involvement in harvesting and afforestation activities.
The main administrative and management body for conservation and protected areas is the Department of the Environment, which was established in March 1972. Its responsibilities include the conservation and enhancement of wildlife resources and the prevention of pollution. It also puts forward regulations on habitat management. Existing capacity for the enforcement of conservation legislation and regulations, however, is limited.
The Department of the Environment is divided into a series of divisions dealing with different environmental matters; of these, the Division of Parks and Wildlife is the main body undertaking protected area management. The division prepares recommendations for the establishment of reserves or changes in reserve classification. Before they are presented to the High Council of the Environment for approval, they are reviewed by all appropriate divisions of the Department of the Environment so that all government organizations with jurisdiction over lands proposed for protection have an opportunity to assess the impact on resources administered by their organizations.
Control of grazing and forestry within reserves is determined by regulations adopted jointly by the Forest and Range Organization and the Department of the Environment.
Research is conducted in ministries and universities. Almost all ministries have their own research institutes and centres. The Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran includes the Department of Forestry and of Forest Economics which conducts studies relating to forest status and protection.
Forest protection is one of the most important objectives of the Forest and Range Organization. The government has a policy to engage local people in all forest activities, especially in forest protection, including fire prevention. Forest fires in Iran are generally caused by humans.
The main objectives of Forest Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran are:
- preparing integrated plans for all natural resources of the country and applying proper exploitation systems based on modern technology suitable for the sustainability of natural resources and increasing timber and fodder production for economical exploitation;
- preparing and implementing agrosylvipastoral plans, especially in the Zagrosian vegetation region;
- establishing wood industry units to create income-generating possibilities for forest dwellers;
- establishing forest cooperative societies to manage, preserve, rehabilitate, develop and exploit the forest in collaboration with local people and within the conditions and limitations prescribed in the developed plans;
- procuring technical facilities and required investment to develop road networks;
- industrializing the traditional animal husbandry systems in the northern forests by creating income-generating possibilities and procuring animal husbandry facilities in marginal areas outside forested lands;
- procuring the required equipment and inputs to implement the country¿s natural resources development plans;
- improving timber production through mechanization and modern technology, and decreasing waste;
- procuring the required facilities to replace fuelwood by other suitable kinds of fuel;
- determining rational ways of exploiting forest by-products to supply local needs and export the excess materials;
- extending agroforestry, the plantation of multiple-use wood species and the plantation of fast-growing tree species to meet timber needs through short and medium rotations;
- preserving rare forest communities and species as national reserves;
- promotion of State, private and cooperative investment in developing, rehabilitating and utilizing all touristic areas and landscapes of the country;
- promoting training and extension programmes and awareness raising about the importance of natural resources preservation and rehabilitation. Local cooperatives have recently undertaken the implementation of forestry management plans, which helps to prevent conversion of forest lands into agricultural lands and to improve rural people¿s livelihoods. Since 1986, 18 plans covering 130 000 ha have been transferred to 18 cooperatives with more than 5 000 members.
Constitutional Act No. 50 states that all citizens are required to honour the conservation of nature and natural resources. The first wildlife reserves were established in 1927. In 1956 the Game Council was created with a policy to set up hunting centres for the protection of endangered species and the control of hunting. In 1967, the Game and Fish Department was empowered by law to declare certain areas for the protection of flora and fauna. The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, 1974 identifies four categories of protected natural areas: national park, wildlife refuge, protected area and national nature monument. The Law of Protection and Exploitation of Forest and Range, enacted in 1967, includes specific legislation relating to areas which may be declared as forest parks. They are administered by the Forestry and Range Organization and are maintained as parks designated primarily for recreation, although they often include important representatives of unique woodland stand types.