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EghtesadOnline: About 20% of the budget earmarked for the Forest Protection Law have been allocated by the government, the head of the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization said.

Khodakaram Jalali also told IANA—the agriculture news agency—that he is optimistic about the allocation of entire 800 billion rials ($23.2 million) earmarked for the implementation of the law despite the administration’s empty coffers.

“All the three branches of the government as well as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei care about this law, so I hope we’ll receive the funding we need,” he said.

The law approved in January places a 10-year ban on exploiting the rapidly diminishing Caspian Hyrcanian forests in northern Iran, according to Financial Tribune.

According to Jalali, who doubles as a deputy agriculture minister, FRWO is committed to ending the commercial use of the forests’ timber by the end of the current Iranian year in March 2018.

“The goal is to have zero logging from next year,” he added.

The protection scheme is committed to underpin a three-year-old government directive that only allows diseased, dead and broken trees to be used for timber by placing a 10-year ban on exploiting forest resources.

The law only places a ban on commercial logging, which means obtaining timber “from old and diseased trees” as fuel for heating in regions not connected to the national gas grid is still legal.

The use of other resources in the forests, such as plants used for herbal medicines, is also fine.

While there are no official figures available, it is said that those who depend on timber from the northern forests for heating purposes use between 3.5 million and 4 million cubic meters of timber per annum.

The Oil Ministry is legally obliged to set up an alternative source of fuel for the locals, but it has not yet done so.

Annual demand for timber in Iran is 7-10 million cubic meters and is expected to reach 13 million cubic meters in five years. Iran has lined up measures to alleviate the mounting pressure on forests, such as increasing timber imports from Russia and Ukraine to reduce logging and protect the Caspian Hyrcanian forests.

Tehran currently imports 1 million cubic meters of timber from Russia and Ukraine annually, but wants to increase the volume four times. The goal is to import 10 million cubic meters of wood every year by 2021.

Iran government Iran forests Iran Forest Protection Fund Iran Forest Protection