“SHADEGAN” which is derived from the word Shad (happy) means happiness, delight.
It has been nearly two decades since Shadegan, Iran’s biggest wetland, was listed in Montreux record. The record is aimed at giving the states heads-up for if they do not take timely and effficient action, not only will they lose the areas listed in the Ramsar international convention, but they also will truely confirm the fact that an internationally important wetland is an extravagance they cannot afford and do not deserve. Haplessly, however, the rulers of Pardisan building (Iran’s environment conservation organization), resting assured of their chairs, have never bowed to such conventions and threats.
I need to mention that the wetland with its area of almost 538000 hectares, covers a little more than one third of water areas of Iran which have been internationally recognized and included in the Ramsar convention; representing an area of around 538000 hectares. Even though it occupies not much more than 0.3% of the country, it is the natural habitat of 30% of the all bird population (154 species), 25 % of all mammal population (40 species), and 45% of all fish population (36 species of wetland fish plus 45 species of sea fish). In addition, almost 30 major societies of plants consisting of 110 species (5.1% of Iran’s plants population), 3 species of amphibians, and 9 species of reptiles; and finally 4 different types of shrimps, all on the verge of nonexistence, are amongst habitants cohabiting in this matchless habitat. With the prospect of 100000 locals, living within the immediate vicinity of the wetland, who will possibly lose their only source of livelihood for which they have no alternative, the extent and depth of the disaster becomes even more alarming.
Yet the questions are: what have we done important as both fact n giving effect so as to control the situation? Have we been able to control the constant oil spill from old worn out pipes into the area? Have we been able to preserve the wetland’s water right? Have we thwarted illegal hunting? Have we prevented the sewage from sugar cane, Steel and petrochemical industries from entering the wetland? Have we relocated the residential areas inside the wetland elsewhere? Have we built the infrastructure required to create an affluent eco-tourism? Have we issued sufficient permits or given enough freedom of action to environment conservation NGOs? Have we given a single thought to the existence of 30 petrochemical units and their subsequent pollution in the area? Have we…?
Do we need to review the answers to all these questions? Do I really need to tell you that the water entering the wetland has decreased by nearly 30% and that the quality of the remaining water is in fact so poor that it is virtually impossible to find a living thing? Las year, I (author) had the chance of riding over the lake by boat twice and two hours each time, only to find to my great regret, not even one single living creature could be seen slithering amongst the water to promise a brighter future. By the same token, the studies on the sweet water part of Shadegan conducted by Southern of Iran Aquaculture Research Center in 1995, 2008 and 2010 show significant decline in the quality and quantity indexes confirming the extent of the critical situation; the studies also suggest that in comparison with privious years, the biomass production is reduced by 4.5 times.
It is even more saddening, when we learn owing to opening of Omidieh Refinery, the wetland is losing another 6583000 cubic meter of its annual water right which is with no doubt a good reason to give the authorities in charge of Iran’s environment conservation organization a standing ovation for their outstanding determination to preserve our motherland’s ecological capacity!!! One thing is clear, Shadegan will no longer be “happy” and Iran will continue to be the record holder for the number of wetlands listed in Montreux! And surprisingly enough, we are all still living a healthy and prosperous life, aren’t we?!