Yazd protected areas ravaged by drought

Damage caused by drought in the protected areas of Yazd Province is estimated at close to 940 billion rials ($27.5 million) since the beginning of the current water year (started September 22, 2015).

The loss is more than three times the damage incurred a year earlier, which amounted to 300 billion rials ($8.8 million).

According to the provincial office of the Department of Environment, 40% of Yazd’s protected areas are under serious threat by the natural calamity.

“The most severe damage has been reported in Siah Kouh National Park, where precipitation levels plummeted to almost-zero during the last six months.

Darr-e-Anjir Wildlife Refuge, protected sites in Marvast and several other areas have seen considerable damage as well,” said Hassan Akbari, a deputy at the DOE office in Yazd, the provincial capital, IRNA reported.

The drought led to the destruction of vegetation in many areas, meaning there was less food available for the animals in the protected areas which led to an increase in mortality rates among several species.

“We do not expect wildlife populations to grow in the current water year and are struggling to maintain their present numbers,” said Akbari.

Need for Sustainable Measures

He called for more funds to help the DOE sustain Yazd’s biodiversity during the drought period and said measures must be taken to protect the province’ fauna, especially carnivores.

Located at the meeting point of Iran’s largest deserts — Lut and Kavir — Yazd has had a severe problem with water, or lack thereof, for centuries. It is generally believed that if this part of Iran had enough water resources it “could produce food enough for the entire Middle East” because of the work ethics, resilience and very simple lifestyles of the Yazdis.

Over 800 plant, 170 bird, 60 mammal and more than 40 reptile species have been identified in 270,000 hectares of protected area in Yazd, “but we risk losing all that unless swift action is taken to address the worsening drought.”

Yazd is among the warmest provinces in the country and is said to be the hottest city north of the Persian Gulf and Iran’s driest metropolis, receiving a meager annual rainfall of 60 millimeters.

The province has been inhabited for almost 5,000 years, meaning the resilient people in this central region are well-adapted to life in the dry province and thrive under pressure, as evidenced by Yazd establishing itself as one of the top five most industrialized provinces.

But industrialization has come at a price. The province is dotted with water-intensive industries, namely steel producers, which have been guzzling Yazd’s limited water reserves for years.

By some estimates, about 85% of villages in the province have been deserted as a result of the dire impact of the industries on the dwindling water reserves.

By Financial Tribune