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Environmental Analysis & Ecology Studies

Necessity of Ecosystem-Based View to Zagros Forests of Iran

Mehdi Pourhashemi* and Parisa Panahi

Associate Professor, Research Institute of Forests & Rangelands, Iran

*Corresponding author: Mehdi Pourhashemi, Associate Professor, Research Institute of Forests & Rangelands, Iran

Submission: August 10, 2020Published: August 28, 2020

DOI: 10.31031/EAES.2020.07.000657

ISSN 2578-0336
Volume7 Issue2


The Zagros forests with an area of about 6 million hectares are complex and unique ecosystems that are distributed in 11 provinces in west and south of Iran (Figure 1). The length of these forests is more than 1,200 kilometers and their width in some places reach more than 200 kilometers. The age of these forests’ dates to 5500 years ago. There are currently 180 tree and shrubs species identified in these forests. Quercus is the dominant genus of tree species and Brant`s oak (Quercus brantii Lindl) is the dominant tree species of these forests which is mainly seen in coppice form, so the general appearance of these forests is coppice.

Figure 1: Zagros forests, western Iran.

Zagros forests have been interfered with different utilizations for centuries. Although the tree elements of the Zagros forests do not have commercial value in terms of timber production, a wide range of traditional uses are observed in these forests. The use of oak tree branches as fodder for livestock, the use of oak branches and woods for fuel, the use of wood of various species for traditional purposes, the exploitation of various galls and mannas, the harvesting of turpentine from wild pitachio (Pistacia atlantica Desf(, the use of acorns for livestock as well as food supply to local communities, harvesting fruit trees such as Amygdalus spp, Crataegus spp, and Pyrus spp, and charcoal from oak trees are among the most important human interventions in this valuable ecosystem [1-8].

Although, during the past decades and along with the above activities, Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization (RIFR) of Iran has been trying to manage these forests, but in practice this has not happened. The present conditions of these forests are deteriorating, and the quality and quality of these forests are diminishing day by day. Along with various exploitations and pressures on these forests, severe climate changes, frequent droughts and shortage of rainfall, conversion of forest lands to agriculture, overgrazing and rainfed under forest also add to the cause and has contributed to the weakening of this ecosystem. The occurrence of oak decline phenomenon during the last decade is a testament to this claim. This phenomenon has affected more than one million hectares of Zagros forests, resulting in varying dryness or mortality in a significant number of different trees, especially oaks Pourhashemi [9].

The current unstable structure of Zagros forests and the continuing destruction of these forests have raised concerns among foresters. Why, despite the tremendous importance and value of these forests, does it continue to destroy it? A question that can change the managerial view about these forests. The answer is very clear: "no attention to forest ecosystem services". What has existed so far in these forests has been just productive (largely traditional) view. Now is the time to take a more comprehensive view of these forests.

Unfortunately, either the services of these forests are ignored or paid very little attention at the present time, so these services are neglected and their value to policy makers and managers is unclear. Although, in the fourth and fifth national development plans of Iran, the government is required, in cooperation with the Department of Environment, RIFR and other relevant organization, to estimate the economic value and costs of environmental pollution and degradation in the natural ecosystem development process, but the steps taken in this regard are very small. So far, the economic valuation of forests has been limited to some studies in some forest habitats, such as Arasbaran, Golestan, Lar and Bamu National Parks, and has not been fully carried out in the forests of Iran. The Zagros forests have many ecosystem values due to their special conditions. For example, Zagros forests account for 40 percent of Iran's fresh water, which directly benefits the 10 million people.

One thing that can make these forests the most important natural ecosystems in Iran. The occurrences of floods in recent years in these forests indicate a disregard to this valuable function of the Zagros forests. Other functions must be add to this role of Zagros forests such as the conservation value of these forests from water and soil resources, the value of these forests in carbon sequestration, significant biodiversity and the existence of numerous endemic and endangered species, non-wood goods and products, natural landscapes such as lakes, waterfalls, different natural habitats and different ethnic cultures such as different tribes (50% of Iranian tribes are present in Zagros). If the monetary value of each of the above functions is estimated, then the true position of the Zagros forests in national programs and policies will be identified [10-14].


It is the author’s opinion that comprehensive view to Zagros forests and ecosystem-based management can be a way out of the current critical situation in these forests and lead it to improved conditions.


  1. Department of Environment of Iran (2011) Economic valuation of environmental resources-Bamu National Park, Tehran, Iran.
  2. Department of Environment of Iran (2011) Economic valuation of environmental resources-Golestan National Park, Tehran, Iran.
  3. Department of Environment of Iran (2015) Economic valuation of environmental resources-Lar National Park, Tehran, Iran.
  4. Document of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2004) Fourth development plan bill of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Publication of President Deputy Strategic Planning and Control of Iran, Tehran, Iran.
  5. Document of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2009) Fifth development plan bill of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Publication of President Deputy Strategic Planning and Control of Iran, Tehran, Iran.
  6. FAO (2018) Introduction to oak decline in Zagros region. Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization brochure in collaboration with FAO, Tehran, Iran.
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  11. Pourhashemi M, Panahi P, Zandebasiri M (2013) Application of visual surveys to estimate acorn production of Brant`s oak (Quercus brantii Lindl.) in northern Zagros Forests of Iran. Caspian Journal of Environmental Sciences 11(1): 85-95.
  12. Ranjbar A, Ghahramani L, Pourhashemi M (2013) Impact assessment of pollarding on biometrical indices of Lebanon oak (Quercus libani Oliv.) in Belake Forests, Baneh. Iranian Journal of Forest and Poplar Research 20(4): 578-594.
  13. Sagheb Talebi Kh, Sajedi T, Pourhashemi M (2014) Forests of Iran: a treasure from the past, a hope for the future. Springer Netherlands.
  14. Saleh A, Molaei M (2007) Economic value of the Kalibarchai Arasbaran basin. Proceedings of the Conference on National Plan for the Economic Value of Resources, Tehran, Iran, pp. 1-20.

© 2020 Mehdi Pourhashemi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.