0626 GMT January 19, 2020
Inscription of the Hyrcanian Forests on UNESCO’s World Heritage List will be of assistance to their preservation and revival said the director general of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran.
The Hyrcanian Forests stretch some 850 kilometers along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. On Friday, UNESCO voted to add the forests to its list of World Heritage Sites in Baku, Azerbaijan, where the World Heritage Committee met.
Speaking to Iran Daily, Seifollah Farzaneh added Mazandaran Province is home to the biggest part of the Hyrcanian Forests.
He noted that the historical background of the forests dates back to up to 50 million years, adding the diverse climatic conditions and heavy precipitation in this region during all these years have led to the growth of various plant species.
“This region is home to diverse and special plant and animal spices.”
He said the Hyrcanian Forests have survived from the Tertiary Period — interval of geologic time lasting from approximately 66 million to 2.6 million years ago.
“While, in most parts of Europe and Siberia, these forests could not survive cold weather and were destroyed, thanks to the mild climate of the Caspian Sea littoral regions, the Hyrcanian Forests are still found in these areas.”
Farzaneh said these forests form a green belt stretching from Gorgan in northern Iran to parts of Azerbaijan.
“These forests are home to trees with broad leaves and unique animal species.”
He noted that following Abbasabad Garden in Behshahr, the Hyrcanian Forests are the second natural site of Mazandaran Province to have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
“The inscription of the forests on UNESCO’s list was an outcome of years 13 years of efforts by experts in different fields. The forests are the 24th Iranian heritage site inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.”
On the distribution of the forests across Iran, he said they are located in Golestan (northern Iran), Semnan (central Iran) and Gilan (northern Iran) provinces.
The forests comprise 12 zones, of which six are located in Mazandaran Province, Farzaneh added.
Commenting on the process to inscribe the forests, he said UNESCO’s representatives carried out surveys on those parts of the forests located in Mazandaran Province in different phases.
He listed the areas surveyed by UNESCO experts as Vaz Protected Area, Bula forest, Alimestan forest, Kojur District’s forest, Khoshkeh Daran forest, Chahar Bagh forest as well as zones 45 and 46.
“In the year to March 2019, these forest zones were surveyed and judged in two joint meetings between the representatives of Iran and UNESCO.”
Commenting on the advantages of being inscribed on UNESCO’s list, he said providing the forests with better protection will be the very first measure to be taken following the inscription as all domestic organizations will be duty-bound to to act according to the strict rules and regulations imposed by UNESCO to guarantee maximum preservation of the natural sites on its list.
On the other hand, the inscription of the forests by such a reputable organization will draw considerable international attention to them, which, per se, would lead to an influx of tourists to the country, Farzaneh noted.
“UNESCO inscription will also provide the forests with international support. Thus, if a blaze, for instance, sweeps through parts of the forests or the trees develop diseases, all related international organizations will hurry to provide Iran with their assistance.”