Iranian environmental officials say Iran’s exploitation of water resources is three times the world standard and continuing this pattern will speed the country’s desertification.

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Zahra Jaavaherian, the head of sustainable development and the economy for the Department of the Environment, told ISNA that half of the country’s fields have now dried out.

The report goes on to add that last year, after underground waters in various parts of the country were over-exploited, a ban was placed on drawing water from 300 planes across the country.

Javahaerian explained that it’s considered safe to consume 20 percent of renewable water resources while consuming 40 percent of renewable resources is seen as too risky. She then noted that Iran is currently using 85 percent of its renewable water resources.

Average annual rainfall is 800 mm but in Iran the annual rainfall is only 220 mm.

The UN has co-operated with Iran to tackle the problem of desertification, and recently the UN coordinator in Iran, Gary Lewis, reported that their achievements in Southern Khorasan can be used as a national model for sustainable development.

He adds that there is hope that by 2016, more than 1.2 million hectares of Iran’s desert areas will be covered by this plan.