Iran possesses a large number and wide variety of wetlands, whose significance for global biodiversity is unparalleled in the Middle East. Less well appreciated, is the remarkable importance of these wetlands to the economy and quality of life of people in Iran. This arises from the natural products, functions and services that wetlands provide. When compared to many other natural ecosystems and possible land uses, the value of these wetlands is disproportionate to the fraction of the Iranian territory that they occupy
The Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project was signed in 2005 between the Government of IR Iran and UNDP / Global Environment Facility to address this crisis. Full implementation began in April 2006, and the project is due to end in 2012. The project seeks to address the root causes of the damage to Iran’s wetlands by applying the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ecosystem Approach at three levels:
At local (site) level: by engaging and empowering local communities in the management of wetlands, and by building the capacity of the local offices of the DOE and other stakeholders to manage the threats that arise within the wetland itself
· At basin level: by engaging provincial stakeholders in the integrated management of wetlands to address externally-arising threats, and by raising public awareness.
· At national level: by building the capacity of national DOE for the integrated management of Iran’s wetland protected areas, and by mainstreaming wetland conservation measures into other sectoral ministries.
Work at the local and basin levels is being undertaken at two demonstration sites, Lake Uromiyeh and Lake Parishan, and will be extended in the latter years of the project to a small number of replication sites.
The project is designed around the premise that:
Decision-makers and local communities will only support the sustainable management and restoration of wetlands if they are aware of (and benefit from) the multiple values of these areas, and if they are involved in their management