EghtesadOnline: It is essential to put an end to damages inflicted on wetlands by restoring and protecting them and preventing devastating consequences on people's lives and the environment, the first vice president said.
Referring to the pattern of losses inflicted on wetlands by climate change and wrong decisions, Eshaq Jahangiri emphasized restoration of the threatened wetlands and called for effective planning and action, the Energy Ministry news portal Paven reported.
“Under existing laws, the Department of Environment must strict in preventing unauthorized exploitation of water resources that has resulted in the destruction of wetlands,” he said.
In 2017 in an effort to fight the combined effects of climate change, water crises and harmful human activities that have turned Iran’s once-thriving wetlands into sources of dust and sand storms, the Parliament passed the Law to Protect, Restore, and Manage Wetlands (Wetlands Protection Law), according to Financial Tribune.
The law aims to protect Iran's wetlands from any activity that "pollutes and causes irreparable damage to wetlands".
The DOE is responsible for determining the water rights of each wetland and the Energy Ministry must ensure that the water rights are upheld.
Wetlands are the most endangered ecosystems, with the global cost of destruction and degradation estimated at $20 trillion.
However, the figure is thought to be underestimated and the real loss is much higher. In many cases, the cost that nations incur due to wetland loss is beyond comprehension and almost impossible to monetize.
In Iran, the water rights for wetlands are not fairly distributed and they are exposed to agricultural, industrial and petroleum pollutants. These are among the main challenges wetlands confront.
Iran has over 1,000 wetlands, 25 of which are Ramsar sites and approximately 90 are important wetlands under some kind of protection (either national or international).
A Ramsar site is a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The convention is an intergovernmental treaty, enacted in 1975, that provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Over the past few decades, given the critical status of wetlands worldwide, including Iran, there have been many restoration and conservation efforts.
One initiative has been the “Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project”. This project started in 2005 with the objective of promoting the sustainable use of wetlands and helping ensure the effectiveness of Iran’s system of wetland and biodiversity conservation.
It was a joint initiative between the government, Global Environment Facility Project and United Nation Development Program.
The first stage of the project covered Lake Urmia, Parishan Lake and Shadegan Wetland, was so successful that the second phase of the project has been expanded to all wetlands.
Fortunately, the second phase has also been hailed as a success with several important achievements, including the introduction of participatory ecosystem-based approaches for the conservation of wetlands across 11 provinces, expansion of integrated management to 12 new wetlands, supporting livelihoods and resilience of local communities by promoting sustainable wetland management.
Despite the accomplishments, the conditions of wetlands across Iran are far from satisfactory. The conservation agenda must be pursued with better coordination among the public and parties involved.