Thirty-seven Iranian MPs have called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to protect the Abr Forest in northern Iran.
Abr Forest, Iran (View Larger Map) This forest lies in the central province of Semnan, near its border with Golestan Province. It is one of the oldest forests in Iran which is a remnant of the third geological age.
The 35,000-hectare Abr Forest is threatened because the Environment Organization of Iran has approved the construction of a road through it. The group has justified its decision by saying the trees that have to be cut are rarely more than 15 cm in diameter, and the path of the road has been planned to make the smallest possible impact on the area's ecosystem.
ISNA reports that the head of the Environment Organization of Iran, MohammadJavad Mohammadizadeh, has confirmed the felling of 32 trees so far.
He added that an agreement with the applicants obliges them to plant five times as many trees as they cut down in the same region, and his organization will oversee every step of the plan to ensure no violations are committed.
Opponents of the road maintain that there are already five roads connecting the main destinations in the area, and the new road construction would destroy at least 50 hectares of the forest and upset the ecological balance of the region.