Desertification and It's
Control in IRAN
Wind erosion and its destructive
effects on natural resources and the environment has been a serious problem in Iran from the
older times, and though there had been efforts to control it, it was not until 1965 that an
organized attempt for checking the phenomenon was launched by establishment of a station in
an area of 100 hectares south of Sabzevar, Khorasan province.
|The objectives were protection of
the environment; stabilization of shifting sands and dunes; preservation of farming lands,
conservation of water resources including Ghanat system, and water supply installations;
protection of roads and communication networks; and reclamation of settlements and prevention of
Basically, wind erosion control
involves land salvage and revegetation in areas that are subjected to it because of
The results of more than 25
years of sand dune fixation activities in the country are plantation of one million hectars
with seedlings and 2 million hectars of seeding which has protected or rehabilitated more
than 4 million hectars of Iranian arid lands.
Today, after carrying out
experiments, researches, and projects for decades on dune stabilization and rehabilitation
of desertified lands, Iran can intensify this activities, and supply efficient technical
aids to the countries who face the problem.
|Due to Iran geographical situation
and topographical features, about 80% of Iran's total area have arid or semiarid climate. Alborz
mountain chain in north and Zagros mountain chain in west have surrounded the central part of
the country. In this central region the average annual precipitation is negligible varying from
50-250 mm and in most parts does not exceed 100 mm.
Despite numerous difficulties and rigorous conditions of living in arid regions and deserts, man
has adapted himself to it through centuries and has established settlements there and engaged in
taming and animal husbandry.
Villages of arid regions are mostly tiny, remote and scattered, surrounded by vast expanses of
Animal life, plant cover, and
natural resources of desert lands and arid regions are very sensitive and fragile and are
easily offended by destructive factors.
Overgrazing, excessive shrub and other vegetation cutting for fuel, and converting the
rangelands to agricultural ones are three main factors which devastate pastures and strip
the vegetation plant cover.
|Unrestrained growth of population
and hence unsparing use of plants for fuel and other irrational use of natural regulation tends
to denude the soil and intensify desertification.
Denuded soil is exposed to wind erosion and shifting sand dunes destroy orchards, gardens,
farming lands and threaten industrial and economic centers.
This eventually leads to total
collapse of economy, devastation of the environment, abandonment of settlements and
emigration of the inhabitants to other cities and residential centers, which in tum rises
numerous new difficulties and problems.
WHAT SHOULD BE
|Doubtless the most rational and
efficient way to stabilize the shifting sands, rehabilitation of plant cover and reclamation of
ecological conditions. But since the soil is not stable, sometimes it is necessary first to
stabilize it temporarilly against movement with windbreaks or pallisades.
Windbreaks are barriers of shrubs, woven canes, and tree branches which are placed over dunes in
rows or crosslined patterns.
Another efficient way of
temporary stabilization of dunes and creating opportunity for seeds and seedlings to grow
and strike root is mulching. Mulch is a substance obtained from petroleum during refining.
Mulches, after extraction of aromatics and adding chemical additives as performelation
(which varies according to areas), is carried in tankers to the area. Mulches are heated
there and sprayed over soil by special devices.
|But for permanent stabilization of
dunes, plant cover must be fully restored. This may be carried out through seeding, plantation
of seedlings, and cuttings.
The required seeds may be partly obtained from other planted areas and partly from natural
forests of deserts.
The required seedlings are grown in nurseries either in bed or plastic pots.
The most frequently used seedlings in stabilization of dunes are as follows:
To secure a
satisfactory result, in arid areas it is necessary to irrigate the planted seedlings several
times in the first two years. Water can be supplied through temporary pipelines or transported
Planted areas become completely
stabilized and biologically productive after two or three years.
As a result of the
implementation of dune stabilization and desert elimination programs, a good opportunity was
provided for revegetation and restoraion of the ecological conditions in the region, where
the continuity of biological reproduction is assured by the restoration of nature's life
natural resources and plant cover in desert lands is a difficult and challenging task, but it
will bear fruitful results, if it is carried out with rational and proper planning.
Thus stabilization of dunes helps to
protect residential areas, roads and valuable economic resoureces.
... and so deserts, once bare and barren, become wood and fodder producing centers.
Today, in Iran, as a result of
implementation of dune stabilization projects, not only plant cover of vast expanses of
deserts has been rehabilitated, but also parts of these lands have been converted to
agricultural or industrial ares with vast farming lands and several industrial and economic
More than a quarter of a century
of widespread activities in the filed of drifting - sand stabilization, and desert
elimination, and the experience gained in their practical application, have placed Iran in
the rank of the world's leading and authoritative countries, in regard of the practical
application of sand stabilization and desert elimination programs.
Since the menace of the
progressing deserts and drifting sands constitutes the common problem of several countries
in the region, as well as of certain areas of the Asian and the African continents, Iran's
experience and the progress achieved by Iran in this field, may well constitute path-
breakers for the interested countries.
Looking forward with hope to the
day when the expansion of deserts in the wide world will be stopped and today's wastelands
converted into areas fit for living and production.