World Wetlands Day 2006 in the Islamic Republic of Iran


Iran celebrates World Wetlands Day 2006 with Afghanistan

The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to report on this year's World Wetlands Day celebration by the Islamic Republic of Iran, jointly celebrated with Afghanistan. The Department of Environment, Tehran, organised a two-day event in the Zabol City of Sistan-Balouchistan Province of Iran, about 30km west of the Hamun Wetlands. The event's focus on the transboundary Hamun wetlands was specially important owing to the long history of water sharing in the Sistan basin between Afghanistan and Iran. With support provided by UNEP, bilateral cooperation began last year between these two countries and progress is being made for developing joint cooperation on management and restoration of the Hamun wetlands. The Hamuns include about 2/3rd of the total Hamun-e-Puzak wetland lying within the Afghanistan territory, and the two Ramsar sites in Iran: south end of the Hamun-e-Puzak (site no. 44), and Hamun-e-Saberi & Hamun-e-Helmand (site no. 42), designated in 1975. In 1990, these sites were placed on the Montreux Record due to the dramatic changes in the ecological character of the wetlands affecting widely the Sistan basin from water desiccation and conversion from a wet to a complete dry land.

On the first day of the event, the provincial government of Zabol city organised an inaugural ceremony with welcoming remarks by Mr. Aramanesh, Director General-DoE of the Sistan & Balouchestan Province Office. He welcomed the three delegates from Afghanistan, Mr. Qaseem Naimi, Advisor-Ministry of Energy, Mr. Dost Mohammad Amin, Deputy Director General, National Environment Protection Agency, and Mr. A. Samai Sakhi, General Director of National Parks, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. Special messages on the WWD'06 theme on wetlands and poverty reduction were conveyed by Mr. Heydari Nasab, Governor of Zabol, Mr. Safdari, Deputy of the Governor General of the Province and many others. A video message from the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Mr. Peter Bridgewater, was also presented. In his message, the Secretary General invited Afghanistan to join the Ramsar Convention and expressed his willingness to provide any necessary guidance which might be required for management of the threatened Hamoun wetlands using the Framework of the Convention. Mr. Philippe Roch, representing UNEP and as the Ramsar Convention's Wetland Ambassador, provided a statement for the 150 participants present at the occasion. Following the inaugural session, a documentary on the biodiversity of Ramsar sites in Iran and a monologue adopted from the epic of Shahanama, were presented with elaborations on the ancient history of the Hamuns, its people, and culture.

The Deputy Head for Natural Environment and Biodiversity, DoE, Mr. Anoushirvan Najafi, presented a detailed status report of the wetlands, highlighting the Ramsar sites in Iran. He reported that the current value of 1 hectare of wetlands ecosystem globally is estimated USD 14,000, i.e.150 times more than agricultural lands value. He also reported on environmental condition of the Hamun wetlands and hoped for better cooperation with Afghanistan in near future.

At the end of the session, the local people, community leaders and NGO representatives had the opportunity to clarify on various issues related to the current status of the wetlands in Iran. This was addressed by the Deputy Head of the DoE.

The Zabol Provincial Government, with assistance from the DoE, organised a display of local handicrafts, artifacts with photography and children's painting exhibitions, and information booths installed by the local NGOs focusing on the livelihoods of the Hamoun people, the nomads, and conservation efforts on other Ramsar sites in Iran. At the end of the first day's event, the invitees and participants went to visit the Hamuns along the border of Afghanistan.

Following the WWD celebration, a day-long training workshop on management of the wetland centres and Hamun wetlands was organised in Zabol with participation of international and national experts, particularly Wetlands Link International, Field Studies Council Environmental Education-UK, the British Council. Ms. Shahzia Mohsin Khan from the Ramsar Convention Secretariat presented the role of the Ramsar Convention in wise use of water and wetlands, highlighting the need for a basin scale approach in integrated water resource management under the Convention's guidance and the importance of wetland conservation in dry zones of West Asia. Various information, status for conservation and future opportunities in managing the Iranian wetlands, and promotion of CEPA activities through wetland education centres were discussed. Mr. Hassan Partow, environment expert from the UNEP Post-Conflict Branch, provided a detailed report on the challenges of the Sistan Basin and future intervention needs. PoCB has an ongoing project with the Afghan government to assess the country's environmental situation through an extensive field survey and related post-conflict environmental assessment.

The morning session on wetland centres was chaired by Mr. Najafi, Mr. Asghar Fazel and Mr. Ghasriani, and the second session on Hamun wetlands was chaired by Mr. Fazel, Mr. Philippe Roch and Mr. Dost Mohammad Amin.

The Ramsar Secretariat congratulates the Government of Iran and Afghanistan for their joint effort in celebrating the WWD'06 and hope for further cooperation with the two countries. We also thank the wetland management authorities in Iran, the national and international experts for their valuable contribution and the DoE, the national focal point of the Ramsar Administrative Authority, Ms. Yasaman Rajabkhah, for her relentless effort in making the event successful.

-- Shahzia Khan, Ramsar Assistant Advisor for Asia

Inaugural ceremony, 2nd February 2006, World Wetlands Day, Zabol City, Sistan va Balochistan Province, I.R.Iran

On the day of the Training Workshop, 3rd February, with the delegates from Afghanistan and Iran, national and international experts. Zabol City, I.R.Iran.

From the left: Phillippe Roch, James Hindson, Shahzia Khan, Abdollah Amirebrahimi.

The human dependencies on wetlands resources: A typical weaver making reed-mats.

Cultural and social values of the Hamuns beyond the political borders…

Drawing exhibition for children in Zabol on the theme - Hamun wetlands and people's livelihoods.

The Sistan Cow, almost extinct from the wild: ecologically adapted to local harsh climate, having low nutrient requirements and special floating capability on water.

Montreux Record Ramsar Site: Hamun-e-Saberi. After water has been dried out almost entirely in the Sistan Basin of Afghanistan & Iran from prolonged drought and overexploitation of the water resources.

The 'Burnt City': A 5000 B.C. ruin talks about the once burgeoning ancient city of the Baloochis in the Sistan basin.

The only remaining wet forest by the Caspian Sea: Khoshkedaran National Natural Monument: Shahzia with the Mr. Abdollah Amirribrahimi of the Ramsar Regional Centre for West and Central Asia.

Alien Invasive Plants are one of the major threats to the natural vegetation…Significant impact exacerbated by introduction of exotic ornamental plants.

View from the historic Ramsar Hotel, Ramsar.

With Ms. Yasaman Rajabkhah, Ramsar Hotel.

Country's only Wind power station by the Manjil-Dam on Sefid-Rud.

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