REPRINT: In commemoration of World Wetlands Week we are re-posting an Op-Ed written by the UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Gary Lewis after his visit to Shadegan Wetland last April.
Located beneath Jerahi River, between the cities of Shadegan, Abadan and Mahshar in Khouzestan province of Iran, is Shadegan wetland – the second biggest Ramsar site in Iran.
Shadegan wetland – with an area of 537,700 hectares – is an environmental system comprising of fresh and saline wetlands. It supports a diverse flora and fauna and it is a habitat and breeding ground for Marbled Teal. However, due to agricultural and population pressure, the wetland is under threat.
The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis recently visited Shadegan weltand where he expressed his support for the measures taken to revive the wetland. In this regards he said: “The UN is here to support the Government of Iran in overcoming its environmental challenges including water shortage, air pollution and desertification.”
While addressing a symposium on environmental challenges in Iran at the Royal Geographical Society in January, Mr. Lewis said the main environmental challenge Iran is currently facing is water management.
UNDP under its mandate of Environment and Sustainable Development has an ongoing project with Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) entitled Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project (CIWP). Conservation of Shadegan wetland is one of the aims of this project.
“For the past 4 years, in partnership with DOE, the local community as well as the Ministry of Energy, UNDP has taken measures towards the management of this heritage site,” Mr. Lewis said, adding: “I assure you that this partnership will continue and the UN will support the Government – within our means – in any way possible.”
In the past couple of months, Mr. Lewis also visited Lake Uromiyeh and Hamoun Wetland. “From what I have witnessed, I believe the condition of Shadegan wetland is less threatened than the other drying wetlands which I have visited. But I still believe necessary steps are required to be taken to improve the conditions in Shadegan” he said.