Mashhad, Iran

Initiative: Transformation of “Beltway to Green Belt”

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The holy city of Mashhad is located in the northeast of Iran. It has a population of 3,001,184 and about 20 million pilgrimages and tourists yearly. The Mashhad climate is cold semi-arid with hot summers. The city only sees about 250 millimetres (9.8 inches) of precipitation per year and in recent years, it has faced a sharp decline in rainfall and water shortages.

The 27 km long southern Beltway project of Mashhad in the southern heights of the city was introduced and implemented in 1990 in order to facilitate citizens’ access to suburban highways and reduce the traffic load of the inner-city streets. However, after about 20 years, the negative effects of this highway project were observed on the surrounding environment and the nature of the highlands.

Although environmental reports portrayed a dark future for the region, the construction of the highway continued despite the devastating effects on the environment. Finally, in 2018, in order to protect the environment and the interests of citizens, it was decided to stop the development of the southern part of the beltway. Then a comprehensive environmental protection plan related to this area was developed. Based on the document, different projects such as the development of multi-purpose parks and natural-mountainous parks were designed with the aim of preserving the environment and also developing native vegetation and transforming the “Southern Transport Belt” into a “Green Belt”.

The most important features of this project are as follow: – Stopping the construction of the highway due to its negative effects.

  • Preparing the ground for the possibility of protest and follow-up through legal and judicial
    institutions in all stages of project implementation, whenever actions are contrary to the public interest and the environment.
  • Carrying out comprehensive environmental studies in the region and providing solutions.
  • Design of “natural-mountainous” multi-purpose parks (access routes to parks and mountain heights
    were designed to provide a safe space for citizens).
  • The scope of the project has led to the design and implementation of other small-scale micro-projects with different objectives. Like the Bio park project, Waterfall, Chelbaze Natural Park (in three phases), Kuh Park, Khorshid Park, etc. are designed as a space for citizens and families to get acquainted with the natural ecosystem of the city.
  • Connecting several large green space projects to each other, the project is topographically located in an area consisting of hills and mountains, which is surrounded by southern heights overlooking it. This feature allows all these multi-purpose parks to be connected to each other over time as projects progress.
  • Construction of canals to direct surface water and seasonal rainfall and store it for irrigation of green space.
  • Rehabilitation of water resources due to lack of rainfall and depletion of groundwater resources that were within the scope of this project.
  • Providing a platform for citizens to get acquainted with cultural, nomadic, and rural ecosystems.