Iran: No Country for Old Trees

About one year ago Iranian authorities ordered security forces to rid the country of ‘western influences’ and ‘immodesty’. Fortunately they soon backed off again. But this time green bloggers in Iran and an Iranian daily newspaper, Etemaad, have reported on their new victims: old trees (via LA Times).

According to these reports, the authorities have ordered the cutting down of dozens of two-centuries-old mulberry trees in the northern Gilan province under the pretext of fighting local superstitions. Some people are placing candles and ribbons under them as part of an ancient ritual. It seems that the Iranian judiciary issued an order to stop this by cutting down the old trees.

Several bloggers shared their sorrow and astonishment of such destruction.

Mohmmad Darvish, a leading environmentalist and blogger, says [fa]:

Iran is a low forest cover and we should protect of our trees. Taking care of our trees has deep roots in our culture and tradition. Our Zoroastrian ancestors asked us to protect our nature. The Prophet Muhammad also said that breaking a tree's branch is like hurting the wings of angels. Then how is it possible that they [authorities] can destroy the oldest trees in Gilan and be proud of it… Is it not better instead of cutting down innocent trees, to fight against the roots of superstition? Do you not think people who ask requests of trees will replace them by rivers, mountains or any other living or non-living beings?

(photo of the old tree above is from Darvish's blog)

Earth Soldier writes [fa]:

Superstition has roots in our life, we created them, and the trees are innocent… Some years ago two men were in conflict regarding of the possession of 100 doves. A judge ordered that all 100 doves should be killed. The innocent birds died, but do you think the conflict of these two men ended?

The blogger adds that the authorities want to cut down 40 trees and most of them are older than 200 years.

Blogger Z8tun says [fa] that the superstition is not only about the trees, and that many people offer jewelry to shrines in order to have their prayers answered. The blogger adds that many poor people offer what they have, to get healing for themselves or their family members. Z8tun says you only could impose your will on poor trees.

According to Ahang Rabbani, trees have been victims in another story too. Ahang writes in :

During the early hours of Saturday, 27 September 2008, the custodians and grounds-keepers of the Baha’i cemetery in Isfahan visited the cemetery (on the road leading to Nain in Yazd Province) and found all the trees cut to pieces. It appears that in Iran, even for trees that are close to Baha’is – even deceased Baha’is – is a crime punishable by death.


  • Lorraine Foulkes

    It breaks my heart to read of such petty things that these adult men will stoop to, to get to hurt another man.

    I believe that the human race is the worse thing that God ever created. People should stop breeding when men resort to such horrible things.

    I am glad I have my animals in my life to love and to trust who also show me the same.

  • […] what the Iranian government is doing to the people of Gilan province and their ancient trees: [T]he authorities have ordered the cutting down of dozens of two-centuries-old mulberry trees in the northern Gilan province under the pretext of […]

  • These are “wishing trees.” In the Celtic cultural tradition, certain old trees were called wishing trees, and the custom was that people who were hoping for health, or to have a child, or to find a marriage partner, or any other important hope in life — these people would hammer a nail into the wishing tree, or press a coin into a crack in the tree, to make their wish come true. Over years and years the tree would become bent and twisted from carrying all the hopes of the people.

    The Irish poet Seamus Heaney wrote a poem in memory of his mother called “The Wishing Tree.” It imagines her as the wishing tree, ascending to heaven upon her death:

    I thought of her as the wishing tree that died
    And saw it lifted, root and branch, to heaven,
    Trailing a shower of all that had been driven
    Need by need by need into its hale
    Sap-wood and bark: coin and pin and nail
    Came streaming from it like a comet-tail
    New-minted and dissolved. I had a vision
    Of an airy branch-head rising through damp cloud,
    Of turned-up faces where the tree had stood.

  • […] better. Yesterday served up three juicy fruit tales from around the world. First, how ancient mulberry trees are being cut down in Iran because of their connection with local superstitions. While, from half a […]

  • […] de Iraanse religieuze plantsoenendienst al eerder met dit botte bijltje heeft gehakt vernemen wij via de Perzische blogosfeer. Bomen die op een Bahá’í begraafplaats stonden moesten het ook ontgelden. Een boom die met […]

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