Arasbaran on UNESCO’s Radar

Financial Tribune- UNESCO experts have started assessing Arasbaran Forest in East Azarbaijan Province as part of preliminary studies for the global inscription of the site, following their visit to survey Fars Province’s “Ensemble of Historical Sassanian Cities” that is also on the organization’s tentative list of world heritage sites.

Arasbaran’s dossier was submitted in January and approved by the organization in late April, paving the way for Iranian measures to ensure the forest meets the UN agency’s criteria for inscription. If inscribed, it will become Iran’s second natural site on the World Heritage List after Lut Desert, which gained world heritage status last year, ISNA reported.

According to Mohammad Hassan Talebian, deputy for cultural heritage at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, the team of experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature have commenced their assessment of Kaleybar City after meeting heritage authorities.

“Following inspections, the IUCN will pose questions regarding details of Arasbaran and the authorities’ plans on developing the site based on a report prepared by the assessment team,” he said.

Talebian noted that the Iranian authorities in charge of the dossier have prepared complementary information to provide the evaluators with details in case of ambiguity.

Reportedly, the final decision on Arasbaran Forest is to be made at the 42nd session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee scheduled for early spring in 2018.

Arasbaran contains 1/19th of Europe’s plant diversity and one-fourth of France’s. Despite covering only 5% of the country’s total area, the forest boasts 13% of Iran’s vegetation and is home to 29% of mammals, 44% of birds, 32% of amphibians, 9% of fish and 20% of reptile populations in the country.

Another feature that enhances the cultural and historical value of the forest is the presence of Shahsavand nomads who have inhabited the region for centuries.