Tree planting offers hope to parched communities in Iran
Communities in an arid region of Iran are planting trees to reduce soil erosion from severe summer winds, a step that will also help reduce global climate change, since the trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
UNDP, with funding from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), is working with the Iranian Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization to support these efforts. Local decision-making stands to benefit, as do the impoverished communities that depend mainly on raising livestock for their livelihoods. They will get help with activities to generate more income.
The project is in a watershed area southeast of Birjand, in the eastern province of Khorasan. Eleven small villages in the northern part of the area—home to 9,000 people, including 3,000 who are nomadic—have traditional agreements on use of local resources. Tree planting, to rehabilitate at least 9,000 hectares, and other activities will build on these agreements.
Reducing soil erosion is a vital step in improving agricultural productivity. Community organizations and civil society groups will also encourage small business opportunities in handicrafts and other fields. The project will offer job training and help set up micro-credit facility to provide small loans.
Communities will also gather data on primary education and health care to inform action to strengthen these two pillars of local development. The broader aim, noted UNDP GEF Coordinator Medhdi Kamyab, is to empower marginalized communities to guide local development activities and work together to improve their quality of life, while benefiting both the local and global environments.
UNDP and the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization are also preparing a project that will work with local communities on conserving the Yakakesh forests in the Alborz mountains in northern Iran. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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