ECO-IEST:A Roadmap to a comprehensive approach for the conservation of the indigenous cat species of the I. R. Iran has been developed by the Iran’s University of Environment.
The idea of preparation of a conservation roadmap for felids of Iran was conceived by Dr Asghar M. Fazel, President of the ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ECO-IEST) and Chancellor of the University of the Environment (UoE), together with Co-Chairs of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Dr Urs Breitenmoser and Dr Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten. Several Iranian experts and international scientists collaborated to compute the present conservation roadmap for cats of Iran which was developed at a participatory workshop held in Sari, Iran, from 12–14 May 2012. Participants of the workshop were wildlife experts and representatives of all provincial offices of the DoE, scientists from universities, and members of NGOs engaged in cat and wildlife research and conservation. The Roadmap is organised in nine chapters, each of them having conclusions at the end.
At the preface of this Roadmap Dr Fazel has written that:
"Iran’s high geographic, topographic and climatic diversity at the crossroad of three continents has created globally and regionally important natural landscapes and ecosystems which supports a rich biodiversity. Iran is home to, at least 197 mammalian species from 10 orders and 38 families, including 10 species of felids. However, habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, coupled with intensified illegal killing of these charismatic carnivores over the last two decades have resulted in a drastic de-cline of the species’ range and population size. Sadly, we have irreversibility lost Iran’s Persian lions and the Caspian tiger. Yet, there are vast habitats across the country supporting the remaining eight cat species. Iran is globally the last stronghold for the Critically Endangered Asiatic Cheetah, and is perceived to hold the remnant source populations of the Endangered Persian leopard in Western Asia.
To more effectively conserve this remarkable cat diversity and to replace the ongoing small-scale felid management programmes with a firm national conservation plan, a Roadmap for conservation of the Iranian cat species was developed. The initial phase of this attempt has been made by Iran Department of the Environment (DoE) in collaboration with IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group in November 2011, with a financial support from University of Environment (UoE), Iran.
Existence of a network of 272 reserves authorizing by Iran Department of the Environment, including 28 National Parks, 43 Wildlife Refuges, 166 Protected Areas and 35 National Natural Monuments (10.4% of the country’s total area), plays a significant role in wildlife conservation in Iran. Hence realizing the available knowledge within a framework for the conservation of the Iranian cat species is essential. Using these national and international capacities, I hope that the present document will aid us to formulate a comprehensive guideline to ensure long-term survival of wild felids in Iran.”