Flora and Fauna
|Flora of Iran|
The vegetation in Iran is remarkably varied from one area to another. Iran is situated at the junction of four different phyto-geographic regions (the Irano-Turanian, Euro-Siberian, Saharo-Arabian and Sudanian) and has over 8,000 species of plants, of which about 20 per cent are endemic. These endemic species are now to be found mostly in isolated spots, on the peaks of the Zagros and Alborz, on a few mountains of the central plateau and on the ridges south of Kashan and Yazd and north of Kerman. Although 60 per cent of the land is classified as arid or semi-arid, these areas are not entirely barren and can sustain a sparse vegetation, adapted to the dryness and salinity of the soil (Acacia, Ziziphus, Heliotmpium, Astragalus, Artemisia). More
The natural vegetation of the Zagros is one of oak forests up to 2,200 meters (7,220 feet), and above that of mixed forests of oak and juniper. The slopes of the Alborz which face the plateau were also originally covered in juniper forests but on the north side facing the Caspian Sea the forests are very dense and of great botanical complexity; there are even species there representative of Tertiary flora which have survived the ice age. The forests here are mainly composed of deciduous trees (elm, oak and beech) with box, elder and vine. Along the coast itself are marshes and mangrove swamps.
Iran is also at the junction of different faunal regions (the Palearctic, Oriental and Ethiopian), and its great climatic and geographic diversity has led to the establishment of an extremely rich and varied fauna (jungle cat, brown bear, wild boar, mouflon, ibex, goitred and Dorcas gazelles, crested porcupine). Until the 1940s, tigers, lions, panthers and leopards were hunted in Iran, but today only the panthers and leopards still survive. Iran is one of the most important regions in the whole Middle East for bird migration, particularly in the Ansali marshes, the salt lakes of Orumieh (Azerbaijn) and Bakhtegan (Fars), the Shadegn marshes (Khuzestn), lakes Parishan and Arjan (Fars) and the Persian Gulf. Over 500 species of bird have been recorded in Iran, of which 325 breed there. Among the more interesting species are the Iranian bee-eater, the grey.necked bunting, the crowned and black-belied sandgrouse, the great rock nuthatch, the houbara bustard, the white-throated robin, and the Socotra cormorant.
Unfortunately, centuries of tree felling, grazing herds of sheep and goats, cultivation, as well as modern pollution and urbanization have had a serious impact on the environment. The vast stretches of primary forest have been seriously depleted and a large part of the Zagros, now covered in grasses and bushes, is suitable for grazing but no longer supports trees. In the past fifteen years or so, the Iran-Iraq war, and atmospheric and maritime pollution brought about by the burning of the Koweiti oil fields during the Gulf War, have also had an effect on the Iranian environment, although its extent has not yet been properly evaluated. The Shadegan marshes and the Khor al-Amaya and Khor Musa tidal mudflats, for example, have been contaminated, probably by Iraqi chemical weapons. The draining of marshland and its conversion into arable land has lead to the disappearance of numerous species of birds, frogs and insects. Twenty years ago, more than 12 million birds migrated regularly through the Iranian marshes; today there are just over one million. Although hunting and pollution have contributed to this decline, the main factor behind it is the loss of the birds natural habitat. This draining of the marshes is sometimes linked to irrigation projects: the Hmun-e Saberi Lake in Sistan was practically dry during the winter of 1976 because of the construction of a dam on the Hirmand in Afghanistan.
Natural reserves have existed in Iran since 1927. In 1974, four categories of protected area were established (national parks, wildlife refuges, protected areas and national natural monuments). In addition to these, there are forest parks, protected rivers and coastal areas, as well as Ramsar sites (named after the town in which a convention was signed in 1975) for the protection of wetlands. Today, Iran ha over 70 of these reserves of various types, scattered throughout the country and with a total surface area of just over 10 million hectares (25 million acres) in 1991. Among the most accessible and interesting parks and reserves are the Kavir National Park in the desert southeast of Tehran (Dorcas gazelles, ibex, bustards, sandgrouse, desert larks), the Golestan National Park near Gorgn and the Caspian Sea (goitred gazelles, wild boar, Isabelline shrike, grey-necked buntings, wheatears), the Mian Kaleh wildlife refuge, also on the Caspian coast (a wetland park), and the Arjan protected area near Shiraz (waterbirds, sombre tit, masked shrike).
Your feedback is extremely valuable to us, and will be useful for others.
So let us to have your comments.