0617 GMT February 18, 2019
Rezaei said herbal plants are collected by ignorant people who are only interested in making a profit.
“In the past, medicinal plants were collected by experts at a proper time, place and sustainable level by using correct techniques,” he said, adding that the rise in medicinal plant trade has put the species at risk.
The official noted that non-expert people destroy the roots of plants, preventing their re-growth. He warned that overexploitation of medicinal plants will reduce export as well.
“Iran often exports medicinal herbs, including cumin and galbanum. Iran has a unique climatic condition, which allows the cultivation of different types of herbs. Therefore, the country could become a hub of herbal medicine production for exporting to Europe and regional countries,” he said.
Rezaei called for stricter supervision over the harvest of medicinal plants, as negligence would drive them into extinction.
Seyyed Ali Khalilpour, the head of Forests, Rangelands and Watershed Organization, said over 8,000 types of medicinal herbs grow in Iran.
“About 4,000 tons of herbal medicines are harvested every year,” he said, adding that 40 million hectares of the country’s lands are suitable for growing medicinal herbs.
Rezaei said about 500,000 hectares of rangelands and forests are expected to be earmarked for the cultivation of herbal plants, according to the sixth national development plan (2015-20).