Some of Iran's forest resources were nationalized under Mohammad
Reza Shah's development plans, beginning in 1963. Since then,
the state has gradually gained control over forest use. The plentiful
commercial timber in the Alborz and Zagros mountains was diminished
by illegal cutting that did not show up in official statistics;
approximately 6.5 million cubic meters were cut in 1986 alone.
Of an estimated 18 million hectares of forest lands, only about
3.2 million hectares near the Caspian Sea can be regarded as commercially
Plentiful rainfall, a mild climate, and a long growing season
have combined to create a dense forest of high-quality timber
in the Caspian region. There is an extensive growth of temperate-zone
hardwoods, including oak, beech, maple, Siberian elm, ash, walnut,
ironwood, alder, basswood, and fig. About half of the Caspian
forests consists of these trees; the remainder is low-grade scrub.
The Zagros Mountains in the west and areas in Khorasan and Fars
provinces abound in oak, walnut, and maple trees. Shiraz is renowned
for its cypresses.
To curtail indiscriminate forest destruction, the government
in 1967 moved to nationalize all forests and pastures. A forest
service was established; by 1970 more than 3,000 forest rangers
and guards were employed, and 1.3 million saplings had been planted
on 526,315 hectares of land. The value of exported forest products
was six times greater in 1973 than in 1984; the decrease in exports
probably resulted from increased domestic and war-related consumption.
Data as of December 1987