Fragile ecosystems under pressure

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1046-1047
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1046

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Iran has many hot spots where the needs of a burgeoning population are taking a toll on the fragile ecosystems of this vast, water-poor country. This story touches on four hot issues: a drought stretching into its fifth year that is having devastating consequences, especially in central Iran; a controversial plan to transform Iran's only island in the Caspian Sea into a tourism hub; alarming declines of Iran's forests due to wildfires, conversion to cropland, logging, and urbanization; and efforts to save the Asiatic cheetah from extinction. Iranian scientists and nongovernmental organizations are speaking out about the crises—and, in some cases, making headway toward solving them.