Category Archives: environment & climate

Iran’s Fars Province: Wildlife refuge at Neyriz Lakes & Kamjan Marshes (Photos)

The site lies in the eastern Zagros Mountains, 50-160 km east of Shiraz, and includes two very large salt-lakes -Tashk and Bakhtegan- and a large area of permanent freshwater marshes and seasonally flooded plains along the lower Kur river to the west (Kamjan Marshes). The two lakes are normally separated by narrow strips of land but may be joined during very wet winters to form a single expanse of water covering up to 136.500 ha.

Supporting more than 20.000 waterfowl, up to 50.000 flamingos and other species (e.g. ducks, geese, swans and cranes), the lakes are extremely important for breeding of a wide variety of species.

Kamjan Marshes formerly comprised ca. 10.000 ha of permanent and seasonal freshwater marshes. Although the marshes have been extensively modified by the drainage canals, 5.250 ha of wetland remains, including expanses of wet mudflats. Some irrigation canals are already silting up, and parts of the drained land are reverting to marsh. In addition, new marshes have developed at the mouths of the three main drainage canals where they enter the western ends of Lake Tashk and Lake Bakhtegan.

The two lakes, their delta and spring-fed marshes are designated as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an inter-governmental treaty established in 1971, establishing a framework for the stewardship and preservation of wetlands.

Sources: birdlife.org, ramsar.org, Wikipedia | Bakhtegan Lake, irandeserts.org (in Persian), MEHR News Agency, Tasnim News Agency I, Tasnim News Agency II, tishineh.com

Iran’s Kerman Province: Beautiful yardang landscape near Shahdad (Photos)

Shahdad Desert, on the western edge of Lut Desert, is home to unique natural structures called kalut (sand castles) by locals. The area is regarded as an archeological site of Kerman Province with graveyards, forts, and caravanserais which date back to the fourth millennium B.C.

The Lut Desert is a large salt desert located in the provinces of Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2016. The hottest part of Dasht-e Lut is Gandom Beryan, an approximately 480km² (190 sq mi) large plateau covered in dark lava, 80 km north of Shahdad city. According to a local legend, Gandom Beryan (toasted wheat) originates from an accident where a load of wheat was left in the desert which was then scorched by the heat in a few days. The surface of its sand has been measured at temperatures as high as 70 °C (159 °F), making it one of the world’s driest and hottest places.

These impressive formations which are scattered over 11.000km² across the desert are called yardangs. They form by erosion in environments where water is scarce and the prevailing winds are strong, uni-directional, and carry an abrasive sediment load.

Sources: Wikipedia | Lut Desert, Wikipedia | Yardang, Iran Front Page, BORNA News, wikimedia.org, irandeserts.com (in Persian), untoldiran.com, Mehr News Agency, 500px.com, panoramio.com

Tooma Art Group Exhibition at Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran

Tooma Art Group was formed by a number of Iranian artists concerned about environmental issues. The exhibition, that will run through May 5, features paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and tapestries with focus on Iran’s wildlife. Part of the event’s revenue will go towards environmental projects such as wildlife water holes and facilities for treatment of animals.

Participating artists include illustrators Negin Ehtesabian and Pejman Rahimizadeh, Ilgar Rahimi, Saeedeh Rezaee Badr, Saba Arabshahi, Mahnaz Saadatkia, Anis Soltani, Mahnaz Soleymannejad, Pedram Kazerooni as well as Afsaneh Khorramshahi and Alireza Owji. Nazanin Tahaee, Maryam Tahmasbi, Somayeh Alipour, Moslem Alamzadeh, Nastaran Anbari, Fereshteh Jafarimand and Mohanna Fazli are among others attending the event.

The current exhibition also features works by painters Asal Hazeqi and Leyla Refahi, as well as by graphic artist and photographer Homa Rostami, children’s book illustrator Mojgan Saeedian, graphic journalist Kamal Tabatabai, animator and caricaturist Sara Tayebzadeh and photographer Arezou Amidi.

Sources: Tavoos Online, instagram @tooma_art_group, instagram #tooma_art_group, Iranian Illustrators Society (in Persian)

Tehran’s Niavaran Residential Complex – Keeping trees close to people (Photos)

Designed by Iranian architect Mohammad Reza Nikbakht, Niavaran Residential Complex is located in Tehrans, Shemiran area. Shemiran, being spread along Alborz Mountains slope, used to be a summer resort of Tehran until 40 years ago due to its numerous gardens. Unfortunately, many gardens with old trees in the area have been destroyed by urbanization projects over the last century.

The parcel of land allocated to this project accommodates a number of these old trees too, whose conservation has been considered as the first priority in designing this complex. Mohammed Reza Nikbahkt took a different approach by building around existing trees in order to preserve them.

The 6 story building in Niavaran, northern Tehran, has been designed in 5 levels, each accommodating 6 residential appartments, and 3 lower floors for common facilities. The ground floor includes the entrance lobby, building managers office, ceremonies and gatherings hall. The first basement is mainly for a parking lot and store rooms, while the second basement, in addition to a parking lot, includes central heating room, swimming pool, Spa and the gym.

Niavaran Residential Complex by Mohammad Reza Nikbakht won the World Architecture Award (WA Award – Cycle 12).

Sources: Contemporary Architecture of Iran (more photos), greenprophet.com, worldarchitecture.org

Photos: Earth Hour 2016 across Iran

Tehran and other major cities like Rasht, Shiraz, Kerman, Ahvaz, Urmia, and Isfahan celebrated Earth Hour 2016. Iran has taken part of this universal movement, switching of the lights of important elements all over the country since 2011.

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide.

Related article: Photos: Earth Hour 2014 in Iran

Sources: earthhour.orgWikipedia | Earth Hour, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3earth-hour.ir, pgnews.ir, kojaro.com

Pooladkaf ski resort in Iran’s Fars Province

The second international ski resort of Iran, Pooladkaf is located in the northwest of Fars Province in the middle of Zagros mountains, 85 km from Shiraz.

Source: MEHR | Photos

Windcatchers: Ancient and environment friendly Iranian cooling system (Photos)

A  windcatcher or bâdgir (in Persian: bâd “wind” and gir “catcher”) is a traditional Persian architectural element to create natural ventilation in buildings. They have remained present in many countries and can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, including in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf (mostly Bahrain and Dubai), Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Most windcatchers belong to old residential houses, mosques and urban reservoirs, e.g. in Persian architecture they were used as a refrigerating device at traditional water reservoirs (ab anbars) to store water near freezing temperatures in summer. Regardless of its utility, the height and adornments of these windcatchers used to represent the owner’s distinction and social standing.

Recently the windcatcher approach has been adopted in Western architecture, such as in the visitor center at Zion National Park, Utah and at Kensington Oval cricket ground in Barbados.

Below windcatchers in the cities of Yazd and Kashan (Yazd and Isfahan Provinces) by Hamid Najafi for Tasnim News and by Hoda Asghari for Mehr News.

Windcatchers come in various designs: uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional and work pretty much like modern air conditioning system. At the top of the windcatcher are several directional ports – usually four open towards four direction. When the port facing the prevailing wind is opened, air is pushed down the shaft and into the building. At the base of the tower is a pool of water provided by aqueducts called karez (or qanat), over which the air is allowed to pass. As the warm air passes over the surface of the water, the air cools through evaporative cooling. At night, cold air is sucked into the house thereby cooling it naturally.

Windcatchers can also act in reverse. By closing all ports but the one facing away from the incoming wind, air is drawn upwards using a combination of Bernoulli’s Principle and Coanda effect. The negative pressure pulls hot air down into the karez tunnel and is cooled by coming into contact with the cool earth and cold water running through it. At this point, the cooled air is introduced into the building. By facing windcatchers away from the wind, dust and sand blowing in from the desert can also be kept away from buildings.

The evaporative cooling effect is strongest in the driest climates, such as on the Iranian plateau, leading to the ubiquitous use of windcatchers in drier areas such as Yazd, Kerman, Kashan, Sirjan, Nain, and Bam.

Shish-khans (small windcatchers) can still be seen on top of water reservoirs in Qazvin and other northern cities in Iran. These seem to function more as ventilators than as the temperature regulators seen in the central deserts of Iran.

Sources: Tasnim News (Yazd), Mehr News (Kashan), Wikipedia, Historical Iran, Amusing Planet