Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Most of Iran is located in the Palaearctic realm and is considered the center of origin of many genetic resources of the world, including many of the original strains of commercially valuable plant species such as wheat, medicinal and aromatic. The southwest has some Afro-tropical features, while the southeast has some species from the Indo-Malayan sub-tropical realm. Iranian habitats support some 8,200 species of plants (1,900 species being endemic). Woodlands cover 12.4 million hectares, and Avicenna mangroves cover around 10 000 hectares along the Persian Gulf. Studies indicate that there are over 500 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, 1,035 species of fishes including 750 species belonging to Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman (9 endemic sp.), 100 species belonging to Caspian Sea (with 10 endemic sp.) and 185 species living in inland and fresh waters (with 15 endemic sp.).
Iran’s environment is under a lot of pressure and faces many threats such as desertification, soil erosion, over-grazing, loss of traditional knowledge, lack of awareness, population pressure, unsustainable consumption and production levels such as over-exploitation. Coastal habitats and water resources are being polluted by oil, and industrial and agricultural activities. Overfishing is also a major threat for many fish species. Many projects have been put forward to halt the degradation of ecosystems, such as integrated fertilizer management, irrigation and inland water management, afforestation, and mountain initiatives.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
There are 131 protected areas, including 22 wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites), and 9 Biosphere reserves, covering some 12 million hectares, or 8% on the national land surface.