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Iran (Islamic Republic of) - Country Profile

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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.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Iran’s NBSAP is based on many workshops and studies that try to link research, uses and policies together. Five reports addressed different aspects of biodiversity and served as the bases for analysis. The topics were: a) intersection of social, political and economical issues in biodiversity assessment, b) land use in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, c) biodiversity status at ecosystem, species and genetic levels, d) links between cultural (traditional knowledge and religious beliefs) and biodiversity, and e) the study of sensitive ecosystems. This allowed the development of 4 strategies: a) the promotion of the public awareness and participation, b) the formation of biodiversity information systems, c) the sustainable use of biodiversity resources and d) the integrated conservation of biodiversity. The Ministry of Environment has conducted many studies in line with traditional knowledge and the rights of local communities in relation to genetic diversity. This policy helps to achieve better management practices and sustainable management of biodiversity, and serves as a sectoral objective.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

The Islamic Republic of Iran has decided, in each on its programmes of work, to establish new activities and projects to help achieve the 2010 target. These include increasing the number of protected areas, adding wetlands to Ramsar List, cooperating with international bodies (UNCCD, GEF, IPF, etc.) for projects in dry and subhumid lands to study and protect fragile ecosystems.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

The protected areas network (PAN) is the main tool for conserving and protecting biodiversity and nature in Iran. However, protected areas suffer from human pressure, especially the outlying parts. Regulation implementation faces many problems, mostly due to inadequate size of protected areas, technical and administrative management inadequacies, and discouraging rigidity of protected area acts. But Iran recognizes the importance of the role played by protected areas, and aims, through its Ministry of Environment, at having 10% of its national land protected. Better integration between protected areas and surrounding ones is also under study and practical steps are being developed. Specific targets on wildlife population size and flora coverage will be used to monitor progress.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Iran uses Community Based Natural Management programs to implement and encourage the sustainable use of natural resources. Traditional knowledge and local communities are encouraged to manage their own environment. A working group has been created to integrate indigenous knowledge into existing legislation and intellectual property rights laws. Although the current protection of traditional knowledge and local communities is very low, plans are under way to develop projects to support their culture and traditions through eco-tourism, with the help of the Ministry of Economic Jihad.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme