Source: Radio Zamaneh; photos by ISNA
Iranian environmental activists have demonstrated in protest against the construction of a road through Abr Forest.
ISNA reports that the activists maintain that the road has no economic or social justification and is only being built to satisfy "the secret campaign promises of parliamentary candidates and to satisfy the interests of land mongers and the lumber mafia."
According to the activists: "This road is not needed by the residents of nearby villages and is only desired by real estate brokers who want to raise the prices of their villas and buildings."
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.
To date, thousands of trees in Abr Forest have been cut down, the activists report, although they claim government officials may offer different statistics.
The government has issued conflicting reports about the number of trees chopped down: the head of the Environment Protection Organization says only 24 trees have been cut down while the head of forestry puts the number at 465.
The road's critics claim that the construction project will endanger numerous plant and animal species in the region, including the yew tree.
Despite protests, a Golestan Province spokesman has announced that the construction of Abr Road has been approved by the government and is demanded by the public.
ISNA reports that four roads already link Semnan and Golestan provinces and there is no reason to build another one. Last week, 37 MPs also called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to protect the Abr Forest.
Abr Forest consists of 35,000 hectares of natural forest near Abr village in the northern province of Golestan.
Environmental experts say the construction project will destroy at least 50 hectares of this forest and disturb the ecological balance of the region.
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