Livelihoods and nature are turning a corner in Tilabad in Golestan Province in Iran, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Iran through the so-called Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP).
Trees are being planted, deforested hills are being terraced to prevent soil erosion and manage irrigation sustainably, new crops such as saffron and medicinal herbs are generating new income and jobs, villagers are innovating to ensure healthy organic crops and handicrafts now contribute to household incomes. A new building is housing the cooperatively run micro-credit scheme that supports the villagers in this process of change.
On 20 and 21 September, officials from the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization (FRWO), Golestan province and UNDP Iran visited the villages in Tilabad where the CSP has been active since 2013. They also learned about the plans for expanding into new project sites. The purpose was to see firsthand how this project through strong community engagement is reversing deforestation and preventing soil erosion through measures that also increase yields and income, enhance livelihoods, protect human health and generate employment.
“Implementation of this project has been very successful in Iran, especially in Golestan province. I think CSP has been successful in creating sustainable jobs for local communities - jobs that the country can benefit from” Ms. Anne Marie Sloth Carlsen, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative said to the press.
Ms. Carlsen added: “As a result of this project a lot of work has been done by local communities in many villages all around Iran which stopped the destruction of natural resources and forests. Involving communities is essential because it gives them a sense of ownership. I am extremely happy to see such a high level of engagement of the local community with this project. To overcome environmental challenges, each citizen should feel responsible and take action towards protecting and safeguarding the environment. This is something that we are witnessing in the villages I visited today.”
During this trip Ms. Carlsen also inaugurated a new office of the CSP project in Golestan province.
Back in 2003, the first phase of Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) was initiated in South Khorasan Province with support from the Global Environment Facility. The second phase starting in 2013, replicated and implemented across 18 provinces in Iran including in some pilot sites in Golestan Province. In the third phase of the project which was signed recently, the project will expand in five new sites in four provinces: South Khorasan, North Khorasan, Yazd and Golestan.