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Tehran’s Wilting Plane Trees

In July of this year, environmental activists in Iran were shocked to receive the news of the passing of Yaser Ansari Kojuri, the director of the Sabz Press News Agency. Tragically, he passed away at thirty-two years of age due to a sudden heart attack, with no prior history of illness. 

Approximately ten years ago, the late Ansari, along with a group of friends and like-minded people, founded the Iran Society for Development of Landscape and Environmental Conservation (ISDLE). The ISDLE was among Iran’s most active civil organizations in the field of environmentalism.  In 2008 Ansari also established the Landscape and Environmental News Agency of Iran (Sabz Press). His efforts in both institutions left behind an impressive legacy. 
This multimedia report is the product of a conversation with the late Ansari on the subject of the rapidly dwindling number of plane trees on Tehran’s famous and beloved Valiasr Avenue due to climate change, deliberate destruction, and other human factors. 
The contention over the plane trees is an issue that has recurred many times since the early nineteenth century. History even records an instance where Reza Shah ordered that attention and resources be lavished on the trees in the dead of winter, though some street sweepers would instead girdle the trees for eventual use as firewood. Today, nearly seventy years later, the contention continues. The street sweepers have given way to boutique owners some of whom apparently use quick and efficient methods to dry out the trees in order to clear the view of their storefronts. Meanwhile, many of Tehran's city officials are content to find any suitable excuse to turn dead trees over to the saws of municipal employees.
In this report, Yaser Ansari Kojuri calls for a coordinated policy to protect the plane trees of the iconic Valiasr Avenue in Tehran.  

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