Kurdish environmentalists in Iran have been battling wildfires in Mariwan, bordering the Kurdistan Region, for three days in July, a member of a local environmental organization said for Rudaw.
“It has been 72 hours now that the area of Dolabe has been burning. Dolabe, Qalanjan, Hawari Faqe Mohammed, Asnwa border southern Kurdistan [the Kurdistan Region]” Irfan Husseini, of the Green Mountain Organization, told Rudaw.
“It’s a very steep and mountainous area, and parts of it are mined – that’s why controlling it is tough,” he added.
According to Husseini, up to 170 people, including members of Green Mountain and local villagers, have been trying to control the fire, who said a helicopter was sent to the area on Saturday following pressure from locals.
Around 500 hectares have been destroyed in what he describes as one of Mariwan’s best forests.
“Its trees were up to 300 to 400 years old, and most of them burned and were destroyed.”
The Green Mountain Committee (Chya Sabz) is a major non-governmental organization established 22 years ago in Mariwan, Kurdistan Province. To this day, it is the most active environmental group in Iran’s Kurdish areas. It has played a critical role across the region by raising awareness of illegal logging, wildfires, and threats to the famous oak tree forests.
In a July tweet, the group said it had controlled more than 120 fires in Mariwan since March 21, the beginning of the Iranian New Year.
“The responsibility of preserving nature in Mariwan has fallen on the shoulders of Green Mountain. If we waited for the government and authorities, no forests would be left now,” one of its members told Rudaw English in June.
The organization’s work has not come without sacrifice. Three members lost their lives last year in June battling blazes in the province of Kermanshah. On the first anniversary of their deaths, environmental activists gathered last week in the cemetery where they were laid to rest.
“The environment in Iran is not focused on enough; environmentalism has no value for the government … all of Iran doesn’t have a special firefighting helicopter … All of Iran, from south to north, its east and west is about to be destroyed, the situation is hectic,” said Husseini.