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Thu, Feb 16, 2006
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DoE Threatens to Close Asalouyeh Airport
8,000 Trees Chopped in Lavizan Highway Project
TM Defends Move as Sole Option
Cash Penalties for Polluting Industries
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet and philosopher, 1803-82): Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, Arrives the snow.
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Lack of Dart Gun Triggers Another Tragedy
Foreign Poachers Apprehended
Coral Reef Protection Benefits Outweigh Costs

DoE Threatens to Close Asalouyeh Airport
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The airport might impede the flow of seasonal freshwater rivers into mangrove forests.
Head of Department of Environment pledged to pull the plug on the activities of the Persian Gulf International Airport in the southern port of Asalouyeh, should it pose any threats to regional mangrove forests.
“The department will put an end to the project at any stage in case it endangers mangrove forests in the southern Bushehr province or does any harm to regional environment,“ chairwoman of DoE, Fatemeh Vaez Javadi, was quoted by CHN as saying.
On adverse environmental effects of operations in offshore gas field of South Pars, she said the Oil Ministry is obliged to embark on any projects only after environment assessment reports are prepared.
Yet the ministry has failed to fulfill its obligations on several occasions, the official regretted.
“The department is determined to follow up violations committed by the ministry,“ she pointed out.
Director general of Bushehr Department of Environment earlier warned that the airport, once commissioned, would impede the flow of the local seasonal freshwater rivers into regional mangrove forests, disrupting the natural ecosystem.
Ahmad Reza Lahijanzadeh told ILNA that the project to construct the international airport by South Pars Oil Company had been carried out in the absence of proper environmental assessments.
The worst upshot of the Persian Gulf International Airport is that it upsets the regional mangrove ecosystem. The airport will disturb the hundred-year balance that existed among the freshwater seasonal rivers, the surface streams and the saline Persian Gulf water, the official reiterated.
The construction of the Persian Gulf International Airport, which is to open in the near future, began in 2003 in the hydrocarbon-rich Asalouyeh port in southern Bushehr province.

8,000 Trees Chopped in Lavizan Highway Project
TM Defends Move as Sole Option
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A large area of Lavizan Forest Park has been cleared to make way for Shahid Zeineddin Highway.
Last week’s removal of a large number of trees in Lavizan Forest Park of Tehran caused a barrage of criticism to rain down on Tehran Municipality.
Pointing the finger of blame at the Parks and Green Areas Organization affiliated to the municipality, a host of nature lovers and environment support NGOs have been asking why the body, which is in charge of conserving greeneries of the megacity, should give the green light to such clearing.
About 8,000 pine trees were cut down a week ago in an attempt to flatten the southern section of the Lavizan Forest Park for construction of a highway in east of the capital.
In its immediate reaction to the protests, Tehran Municipality distanced itself from the decision.
In a report released by its Public Relations Office, TM laid the blame on contractor of Shahid Zeineddin Highway Project.
It said that the contractor embarked on felling the trees in clear breach of the law.
Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf pulled the plug on the project until further investigations make it clear whether the contractor had obtained legal permits for the operation, added the report.
Meanwhile, first deputy mayor for urban services stated that Article Seven Commission of the municipality had authorized the measure.
Mohammad Eyidian told Fars news agency that the commission had given the go-ahead to the contactor for obliteration of 8,000 pine trees in the south of the park.
He asserted that the commission had issued the permit without seeking the approval of TM’s Urban Services Department.
In related news, chairman of Tehran City Council revealed, “The councilors had been informed that the trees were going to be chopped down during the weekend holidays (Feb. 8-11).“
Meanwhile, chairman of Tehran City Council, Mehdi Chamran, admitted that trees of Lavizan Forest Park had been cut down to construct part of Shahid Zeineddin Highway.
“Since the route had to pass through the old residential neighborhoods, the project was redirected to cut the expenses,“ the official expanded.
The councilor cited a ratification by TM based on which the trees of the capital could be cut under certain circumstances with the permit of the Parks and Green Areas Organization.
However, the same number of trees have to be planted in other parts of the city, Chamran added.
In the meantime, deputy Tehran mayor for technical and development affairs, Ahmad Donyamali, said flattening the area was the only option for continuing the highway project.
“The other alternative would have been to purchase at least 500 residential units that would cost a minimum 600 billion rials. This was not economically viable, not to mention that it would have been time-consuming,“ he opined.
He put the number of the severed trees at less than 6,000, reiterating the TM’s pledge to plant three times as many as the chopped trees in other parts of the city.
He recalled that more than 37,000 sq.m. of wooded areas, equal to 20 million saplings, had been planted in the capital over the past two decades.
“The municipality has not violated the law and the move has been made in full compliance with executive and legal organizations,“ he observed.

Cash Penalties for Polluting Industries
Tehran Department of Environment issued over 3.63 billion rials worth of cash penalties for 25 polluting industrial units over the past three months, IRNA wrote.
A report released by the DoE Public Relations Office stated that the department monitored more than 1,000 units for pollution during the third round of inspection of industries in the capital.
Notices were issued for 127 plants; while 40 polluting units were reported to legal authorities, it noted.
The department took samples from 117 units, of which 60 were polluting the environment and the rest were up to standard.
DoE is determined to take serious action against units which pollute their surroundings in breach of law, it added.
The department will try to help preserve the environment by adopting efficient managerial polices and educating the public on how to protect natural resources.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet and philosopher, 1803-82): Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, Arrives the snow.

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Habib Mirzaei, a young man from Al-e Hashem village in Khalkhal, Ardebil province, has been peacefully coexisting with this eight-month motherless wolf cub, in his home. They walk, play and ride a motorbike together. (Photo by Bahram Naqizadeh)

Lack of Dart Gun Triggers Another Tragedy
An injured Persian onager succumbed to serious infection caused by delayed veterinary aid in Kalmand Bahadoran Protected Area of Yazd.
Lack of anesthetic dart guns in Yazd Department of Environment thwarted all efforts to entrap the endangered animal alive.
Requests for an anesthetic dart gun from Tehran by local authorities fell on deaf ears, the Persian Daily Hamshahri wrote. Tehran Department of Environment failed to send the gun even after a lapse of 25 days.
A local official recalled that on Jan. 8, regional rangers spotted a swelling in the foot of the animal with partial bleeding from the sore spot.
It was impossible to trap the onager without first anesthetizing it. All efforts for obtaining the dart gun ended inconclusively.
On Jan. 31, the guards witnessed that the six-month-old foal was riddled with pain. A veterinarian managed to examine the animal after it was unable to run anymore. Although antibiotics were administered, the weakened onager lost its live due to serious infection on Feb. 2.
The death of the Persian wild ass comes at a time when environmentalists are deeply concerned that the species is on the verge of extinction.
Official statistics suggest that there are close to 200 of the exotic animal in Touran Wildlife Sanctuary; while about 150 live in Bahram-e Gour Protected Zone in Fars province. A population which is small in scientific terms for an animal species.
For many centuries, the Persian nobility hunted the animal for sport. Young onagers were captured to breed riding animals. Owing to its swiftness and endurance, though, relatively few mammals could be captured by traditional methods.
However, since the invention of modern firearms and automobiles, the animals have been extensively slaughtered for their flesh and hide.
This was the second such incident wherein the lack of an anesthetic dart gun frustrated attempts to save a wild animal from death. In a similar event, a brown bear which had strolled into Azad University campus in Tabriz on Dec. 23, 2005 was shot to death lest it might harm the citizens’ lives.
East Azarbaijan Department of Environment defended the action, arguing it was a last option to avert subsequent repercussions.

Foreign Poachers Apprehended
Three foreign nationals were arrested for violating hunting laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, IranBlueSky reported.
Environmental guards stationed in wildlife habitats of Naeen in Isfahan province arrested three non-Iranian poachers for falconry, the report said, but it did not disclose the nationality of the foreigners.
The team who used trained birds of prey for hunting game were taken into custody along with their Iranian guides on charges of illegal possessing of six birds of prey including falcon, peregrine and saker, as well as hunting rare species of bustard.
According to Naeen Department of Environment, the offenders were sentenced to a heavy cash penalty of above 730 million rials.
Considering that the hunted birds are listed as endangered species and that Iran is a member of the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the country is obliged to safeguard wildlife species included in the list.
The domestic judiciary system deals with Iranian and non-Iranian violators along the same lines.

Coral Reef Protection Benefits Outweigh Costs
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Costs of safeguarding the world’s fast-disappearing coral reefs and mangroves are small compared to the benefits they provide from tourism to fisheries, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said, Reuters reported.
The report, part of a recent trend trying to place a value on the natural world, said that pollution, global warming and expanding human settlements along coasts were among mounting threats to reefs and mangroves.
“Day in and day out and across the oceans and seas of the world, nature is working to generate incomes and livelihoods for millions if not billions of people,“ UNEP executive director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement.
The report, to be issued at a conference in Paris, estimated that intact coral reefs were worth $100,000-$600,000 per square kilometer a year to humankind and a square kilometer of mangroves $200,000-$900,000 a year.
“Most benefits from coral reefs and mangroves arise from fisheries, timber and fuel wood, tourism and shore protection,“ it said.
Corals and mangroves protect coastlines from erosion caused by storms, for instance. The report said it was unclear, however, if they had shielded Indian Ocean coasts overall from the disastrous tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004.
By contrast, the cost of protecting a square kilometer of coral reef or mangroves in a marine park was just $775 a year, it reckoned.
It said that all estimates were based on vague data and had to be treated with caution but indicated that better protection made sense in a little-tested branch of ecosystem economics.
It said that about 30 percent of reefs were severely damaged and that 60 percent could be lost by 2030. About 35 percent of mangroves had already disappeared due to logging, disease and conversion to fish farms.
UNEP’s Toepfer said the report should make people “think twice about the pollution, climate change, insensitive development and other damaging practices that are undermining the economic basis for so many coastal communities worldwide.“
In trying to assess the value of reefs, for instance, the survey said that costs of building a concrete breakwater in the Maldives to replace a damaged reef had been $10 million per km.
Under another survey, coral reefs in the Caribbean were estimated to be worth from $2,000 a year in remote areas to $1 million beside a tourist resort where it drew scuba divers.
In Egypt, about 11 percent of gross domestic product came from tourism, with a quarter or tourist revenues from beaches and reefs in the south Sinai.
And mangroves, for instance, were a source of prized building materials because the wood was resistant to rot.
The report, produced by UNEP with the International Coral Reef Action Network and the World Conservation Union, also estimated that reef fisheries were worth between $15,000 and $150,000 per square kilometer a year.
Fish caught for aquariums were worth $500 a kilo against $6 for fish caught as food.