Zagros forests were formed 14 to 15 thousand years ago with scattered oak and coriander trees. Forty percent of Iran’s freshwater is formed in the Zagros region.
If these forests are destroyed, while depleting water resources, a large area of land in this area, which has been formed over the past thousands of years, will be destroyed by floods.
According to Isa Kalantari, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Iran has the highest soil erosion rate in the world.
The forests of the Zagros, with an area of 11 million hectares in 11 provinces of the country, make up 40% of Iran’s forests. Some 70% of the forest’s trees are oak. The Zagros region starts from northwestern Iran and reaches southwestern Iran.
In recent decades, one-sixth of the Zagros forests have been lost for various reasons. According to the regime’s natural resources statistics, 75 fires broke out in the forests of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province in 2016 alone, burning 950 hectares of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad forests.
Also, in 2017, by the end of December, there were 110 fires in the forests and pastures of the province, in which 700 hectares of the province’s forests were burned. In 2018, some 364 hectares of forests and pastures in the province were set on fire.
On the evening of Thursday, 28 May, a fire broke out in the forests and pastures of Khaiz Mountain in Kohgiluyeh.
In addition to Khaiz in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, the fire spread to Pol-Dokhtar of Lorestan, Bahabad in Yazd province, Siah Dashtestan mountain in Bushehr, Bozin and Marekhil protected area of the Bayangan section of Paveh and Sarpol-e-Zahab in Kermanshah and parts of the Khuzestan province.
Adding, the forests and areas of the Dale region in Gachsaran city also caught fire on 29 May.
Kohgiluyeh’s deputy governor called the situation in the Khayiz protected area “extremely critical” but did not specify the facilities and requirements for extinguishing the blaze.
In Bushehr, however, a day after the start of the fire, two helicopters finally flew from Fars province to Bushehr’s Black Mountain to save the area from the flames.
But as Bushehr, environmental activist and researcher Mahtab Bazrafkan say, “Both helicopters were technically defective and could not turn off the Black Mountain fire, and the fire spread to other parts of the province.”
Mohammad Dasmeh, another environmental activist, also spoke about the spread of fire in the area between Khuzestan and Kohgiluyeh and said: “At first, the fire destroyed some small points of Khaiz, but it became so unnoticed that the fire passed through Behbahan and reached Dehdasht, Kohgiluyeh, and Boyer-Ahmad. Between 700 and 800 hectares of pastures and forests of Behbahan and Dehdasht burned.”
“The Environment Organization does not have a helicopter equipped to control fires and must apply through the governorates,” Jamshid Mohabbatkhani, commander of the Environmental Protection Unit, said in a television interview.
Finally, on 30 May, two days after the start and spread of the fire, the head of the regime’s Forestry Organization announced that “the reason for not sending water helicopters is the debt of 30 billion tomans to the Ministry of Defense.”
Ali Abbasnejad, commander of the Forest Protection Unit, also said that “the Ministry of Defense has not provided firefighting helicopters to the organization for the past two years due to a lack of funding.”
Gholamhossein Hekmatian, Director General of Natural Resources of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Provinces, said on 31 May: “Unfortunately, in this province, we have not even been assigned a helicopter for personnel transport.”