Indigenous knowledge a way to protect valuable wetlands

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TEHRAN – The construction of qanats and dams has long been used in Iran to manage water resources and wetlands that have been forgotten for several years. Experts believe that we can manage water resources and wetlands well when we rely on local knowledge.

Iran is rich in a variety of wetlands due to its climatic diversity. In the world, the total number of wetlands is classified into 42 types, of which 41 types exist in the country.

In Iran, 141 wetlands of ecological value have been identified covering an area of ​​over 3 million hectares, of which 25 wetlands are designated as Wetlands of International Importance (registered in the Ramsar Convention), covering more than 1.4 million hectares and four sites Biosphere reserves are .

Wetlands are ecosystems that are either seasonally or permanently saturated with water. They store and maintain water quality and provide drought resistance. They play a central role in sustainable development by providing all of our freshwater. More than 40 percent of freshwater fish are said to live in wetlands.

Wetlands play an important role in protecting the country from flooding and the effects of storms. They provide food and diverse habitats that support genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity. Wetlands play a key role in the life cycles of many species and in annual migration patterns.

Unfortunately, due to pollution, overexploitation, climate change and population growth, wetlands are being degraded and lost.

In 1971, an international treaty called the RAMSAR Convention was passed to recognize the importance of these ecosystems. Ramsar Wetlands are areas included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) under the Convention on Wetlands.

Coinciding with the adoption of the RAMSAR Convention, World Wetlands Day was proclaimed on February 22 to highlight the importance of wetlands and the sustainable use of these valuable ecosystems.

The theme of this year’s World Wetlands Day is “The Actions of Wetlands for Man and Nature, showing what actions are needed to ensure the conservation and care of wetlands.

Ancient qanats key for protecting wetlands

Ali Arvahi, a wetland management specialist, said that in protecting wetlands, unfortunately, less attention is paid to indigenous knowledge, our country lies in an arid and semi-arid area, and local knowledge has provided solutions for water resources and flood management for centuries.

In this way, in the northern provinces we have dams that were artificially created, in desert areas we see the construction of qanats for water management, in Sistan and Balochistan we have a different type of dam, revising this indigenous knowledge can help us see how people in our country dealt with the flood in the past.

So, rehabilitating old dams and qanats can do two things for us, one, we can better control the flooding and conserve water, especially when we are facing severe water shortage.

Unfortunately, we’ve been building dams to manage water resources and flooding for decades, regardless of the dam’s location and environmental impact assessment, he explained.

He further suggested that natural solutions such as reforestation, revitalizing pastures, protecting rivers and wetlands, planting plants and facilitating water transfer to wetlands could play an important role in this regard.

However, only one dimension of the solutions is being considered by those responsible, and that is the gradual drying up of wetlands, leading to sand and dust storms that are affecting the livelihoods of local communities.

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