The felling of ancient trees in Tehran's historical Sa'dabad Cultural-Historical Complex, home to the Shah's palace, has sparked controversy from environmental activists.
The historical complex constructed by the Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs, sprawling over 110 hectares in northern Tehran, encompasses natural forests, canals, gardens and museums, one of the capital's most famed destinations.
Recent public outrage ensued as images circulated depicting the removal of at least four aged trees on Italy Street in Tehran. Despite claims by eyewitnesses that one tree was “alive”, the municipality asserted that two were entirely “dry”, justifying the action as a precautionary measure to “eliminate the danger.”
Several years ago, a similar incident occurred when trees in the Sa'dabad complex were cut to construct a restaurant. Cultural heritage authorities defended the action, citing the trees as “annoying, obstructive, and pest-infested.”
Despite stringent penalties, including imprisonment, outlined in the Islamic Republic's laws for arbitrary tree cutting, little evidence has shown enforcement. Moreover, there is no reported information on whether municipal authorities have undertaken tree planting initiatives to compensate for the loss of aged and dry trees in Sa'dabad or elsewhere.
Urbanization has long posed a threat to Tehran's historical natural landscapes. The ancient trees that line Tehran's longest boulevard, Vali Asr, have over recent years also fallen victim to redevelopment projects - and even merchants who want better visibility for their shops.
Two years ago, the regime also came under fire for selling its Palm trees to countries including Qatar and Kuwait, the uprooting having devastating effects on the local ecosystem.