The Iranian hills “are alive” with Mountain Watch and other groups working to clean hiking trails around cities.
During the past few years Iranian environmental activists have been worried about the great volume of trash which is polluting the environment around the cities and on far away mountains. With fast urbanization and population growth in Iran, the number of visitors to green spaces around the cities has increased, putting a strain on the environment with increased littering.
The mountains north of Tehran, like Touchal and Darband, as well as along the inner-city roads, are popular weekend destinations for many of Tehran’s residents. So are Sabalan in East-Azarbaijan Province, Damavand, and Alam Kooh, the first and second highest mountains of Iran. Their popularity has also contributed to their deminse, so mountaineers and activists in Iran are helping people clean up their acts.
Efforts for Cleaning the Mountains
It has been two decades since the first cleaning events in the mountains were initiated by Iranian mountaineers and environmental activists. Abbas Mohammadi is the head of a group called Mountain Watch that is also connected to the Alpine Club of Iran on Facebook but not active since 2013.
According to interviews in the press (in Farsi), one of the aims of groups like the Mountain Watch is to lead visitors and hikers to have a more environment-friendly culture. Mohammadi says that some members of the group are tired of picking up the trash from the ground and putting it in a bag and that unaware hikers litter more rapidly.
But he believes that these attempts have had good results up to now and the similar groups will be more successful by informing and teaching people more.
The method that the group uses is to talk face to face to the hikers who are careless about keeping the mountains clean. Maybe this is a good way of promoting the level of participation of people in cleaning the natural environment around the cities in long term.
In one of the cleaning events, which took place on Earth Day the members of the Alpine Club of Iran used the following tactics to influence hikers:
- Cleaned the mountaineering route for at least one or two hours;
- Talked to other mountaineers about cooperating in the program;
- Talked to the local residents of the region about the importance of preserving the natural environment;
- Explained the concept of sustainable development;
- Contacted city councils, environmental preservation offices, and natural resources offices and encouraged them to arrange similar programs;
- Contacted radio and television channels and websites and informed about the Earth Day and the mountain cleaning programs;
- Collected information about the urbanization, road and dam construction, and mining projects and their environmental impacts and gave the result of your observations to the authorities;
- Identified the people who are responsible for destruction of the environment to the responsible organizations.
Similar events took place in Yemen and Lebanon, demonstrating that while awareness is building slowly, it is possible to clean up our beautiful places with active participation from ordinary people and activists not only in Iran, but throughout the Middle East.
Above image in Alborz Mountains via Hamed