Lack of South Caspian Habitat Conservation Network, A Serious Threat on Biodiversity

Author

Dept. of Environment and Conservation of Guilan

Abstract

Iran, a 4-season land in the world, is located in semi-arid part of Asia. There are several geographical climates in this country, which are the main causes for the existence of diverse ecological conditions. In the north, where the Caspian Sea meets the land, there are three provinces. One of these, Guilan province, (the studied area) is located in the southwest of the Caspian with different geographical conditions. Differences in altitude (3000 meter) and precipitation (1200 mm) are important causes for the development of several ecosystems (Fig. 1). These ecosystems include the sea, rivers, estuary, wetland, irrigation pond, hills, grasslands, mountains and Hyrcanian Forest. These ecosystems involve more than 200 species of birds (native and migratory), 65 species of mammals, 49 species of amphibians and 97 species of trees. Since 1971, when the government of Iran established a new department for the environmental conservation, only 5 valuable habitats have been under management in Guilan province with 40089 ha of surfaces. In proportion to the total surface of the province, 2.7 percent of the whole area is under the department's management. Meanwhile, IUCN announced that until the year of 2000 governments should include 10 percent of their countries as protected and under management areas, and that is their last chance to protect their biodiversity. These 5 valuable under management habitats have surface areas of about 33050, 4500, 1230, 949 and 360 ha(s). Although the first one includes several ecosystems in habitat, others only focused on specific geographical areas. Long distances between habitats, lack of integrity, local and special function for each habitat (most of them are wetlands), sediments and degradation in under management areas on the one hand, and urban development, pollution, poor people with low income, illegal hunting and fishing, forest harvesting, lack of guarding, lack of budget and equipment, low public awareness and participation in non-management areas on the other hand are the main causes for the extinction of one species in the past few years. So, 17 species of mammals, 18 species of amphibians and 14 species of birds are in on the endangered species list in this area. This study intends to show the current status of the nature in the area, to determine the main causes and the possible methodological problem solutions.