During his visit to Tabriz and the eastern shores of Lake Urmia, the FAO Representative to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Serge Nakouzi, noted the significant adverse impacts that the continued decline of Lake Urmia was having on surrounding areas and local populations.
He stated that FAO was ready to provide technical assistance to Iran to address this challenge in a sustainable manner.
The extensive land degradation and wind erosion affecting over tens of thousands of hectares in the areas surrounding the Lake have resulted from increased salinity and led to greater incidents of wind-blown “salt storms” and sand storms as well as wind erosion of terrains.
The FAO Representative observed that such land degradation has consequently had serious negative effects on local agriculture, livelihoods of local communities as well as on the health of people residing in the region.
“The calamitous situation witnessed here today further reaffirms the need for a paradigm shift in redressing the deteriorating conditions of the Lake and in safeguarding this national symbol of natural heritage. Although the efforts lent to date have been commendable, it is critical that we adopt a more holistic, systematic and phased approach in comprehensively addressing the various dimensions of this issue so as to secure environmentally sustainable management of the natural resources in this region”, Nakouzi stated during a press conference.
FAO has disclosed its preparedness to provide the technical expertise it retains over the broad spectrum of relevant fields of intervention required, including in terms of sustainable land, forestry and water resources management and in combatting drought and desertification, to partner with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in addressing the challenges faced in Lake Urmia.
Mr Nakouzi, accompanied by Abbas Karegar, Director-General of the Desert Affairs Bureau, from the Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization of the Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture and met with Dr. Ismail Jabbarzadeh, Governor of East Azerbaijian and also and Karim Mehri, Head of the Jihad-e-Agriculture Organization of the province during the visit.
Given his extensive knowledge of FAO’s activities and capabilities, Dr. Jabbarzade asserted that FAO’s technical assistance was vital and urgently required to complement the on-going efforts being carried out within the framework of the national programme to address the challenges faced in Lake Urmia.
Through the provision of its global technical and policy expertise, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is undertaking a successful project with the Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO), together with the support of the Global Environmental Facility Fund (GEF), in rehabilitating forest landscapes and degraded lands in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kerman and South Khorasan Provinces.
The tangible results that have been attained to date in terms of desertification control, restoration of ecosystems, enhancing biodiversity, reinforcing food security and generating sustainable livelihoods for local communities evidence not only the effectiveness of the approach applied, but also reaffirm the viability of the technical methodologies implemented within the framework of this project in confronting the complexities of similar adversities in the Lake Urmia region.