Iran’s favorable income from issuing hunting permits in exclusive natural zones last year has encouraged officials to promote this type of tourism to empower local communities while preserving the biodiversity of these zones.
According to Ali Teymouri, director of Hunting and Fishing Office at the Department of Environment, some 34 permits were issued in three zones last year, 12 of which were given to foreign nationals, ISNA reported.
“Reports from Yazd and Kerman indicate that foreign hunters paid between $15,000 and $17,000 for each permit, which means Iran has earned around $200,000 through hunting tourism in three zones alone,” he said.
Exclusive natural zones are outside the four DOE-protected zones (national park, national natural landmark, wildlife refuge and protected area) whose management and conservation have been ceded to the private sector.
The managers must submit conservation plans to DOE and can earn income by issuing hunting permits for species with a thriving population.
DOE has initiated the scheme for two years with the purpose of protecting the zones while creating sustainable jobs and generating revenue for local communities.
“So far, five regions, including three in Yazd Province and one in Kerman and Semnan provinces each, have been designated as such by the High Council for Environmental Protection,” Teymouri said, adding that more than 15 other areas have been proposed to become exclusive natural zones.
The government’s legal share of the hunting profit has been reduced as an incentive.
Besides enforcing a better control over the zones, managers can also invest in tourism projects there with the approval of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and with DOE.
Teymouri stressed that the zones are not sold to the private sector, but only ceded for short terms of period for conservation purposes. “After submitting a conservation plan, the management of the zone is transferred to applicants for five years,” he said, adding that the contract is unilateral and the DOE is authorized to annul it in case of any violation.
In other words, zone managers are only allowed to run conservation programs and no construction or other activities are permitted, unless approved by ICHHTO and DOE.
A technical committee is tasked with monitoring the operations of zone managers.