Title of best practice:
Integrated floodwater spreading systems in Gareh Bygone Plain.
Iran, Islamic Republic of
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Clarify if the technology described in the template, or a part of it, is covered by property rights:
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Integrated flood water spreading systems operation is one of the government official plans to combat desertification. This plan has been drawn up by The Floodwater Spreading Group of the Research Institute with cooperation of Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization of IRAN .|
Prevailing land use in the specified location
- Grazing land
Contribution to Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) measures
Contribution to the strategic objectives
- To improve the living conditions of affected populations
- To improve the conditions of affected ecosystems
- To generate global benefits through effective implementation of the Convention
Linkages with the other best practice themes
- Capacity-building and awareness-raising
- Participation, collaboration and networking
Section 1. Context of the best practice: frame conditions (natural and human environment)
Short description of the best practice
Floodwater spreading for spate irrigation and the artificial recharge of groundwater (ARG) is an indigenous base knowledge that has been practiced for millennia in different parts of Iran. the main objective of this initiative in the Gareh Bygone Plain is,Breaking the interfacing, vicious circles of poverty-ignorance-desertification on the one and, and drought-flood on the other. The politically expedient and economically disastrous sedentarization of nomads in the Gareh Bygone Plain, I. R. Iran, a sandy desert with the mean annual precipitation and pan evaporation of 243 and 3200-mm, respectively, had wreaked havoc on the environment. Application of inappropriate technologies, mainly moldboard plows and pumps, in an area facing recurrent droughts, had desertified a scrubland, and made refugees out of the once prosperous nomads. The artificial recharge of groundwater (ARG) has rehabilitated 1365-ha of the plain and increased the irrigated farm field area 8-fold to 1193-ha during the 1983-1987 period. The recharged water has provided 250 occupations for the owner-operators and 95 positions for the hired hands.
The average annual forage yield has increased 5-fold to 445kg/ha. Deposition of fine- grained sediments in the systems has converted a loamy sand into sandy loam-loam, suitable for growing small grains. This, the establishment of 89-ha of river red gum forest and erection of 30-km of windbreaks of eucalypts and acacias have stabilized the moving sands and ameliorated the climate. The stem- and fuel wood yield of river red gum at the age of 18 has been 4701 and 813 kg/ha/yr, respectively. The above ground carbon sequestration of the same trees has been 2221 kg/ha/yr; therefore, our trees annually filter 220 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.
The flooding caused damages and fatalities have been materially eliminated. Disregarding the intangible benefits, and assuming the beneficial life of the systems to be 20 years, the benefit: cost ratio for this project has been 22:1.Capacity building is achieved through holding seminars and field trips for students, professors, teachers, technicians, and policy makers, and publishing in scientific journals.For implementation of flood water spreading system in Gareh Bygone Plain,
We have designed and field tested stilling basins that convey relatively large flows (1-30 m3s-1) and convert them into a thin sheet of water, which spreads evenly over the first sedimentation basin without causing erosion. This has |
Gareh Baygon Plain is located in a sand desert in southern Iran lies between latitude 28˚ 35́and 28˚ 41́ N and longitude 53˚ 55́ and 53˚ 57́ E on a debris cone, 1116 –1160 m above mean sea level. This plain located 50 km to the southest of Fasa in 200 km from Shiraz. There are 4 villages in the Gare|
If the location has well defined boundaries, specify its extension in hectares:
Estimated population living in the location:
Brief description of the natural environment within the specified location.
The site (GBP) is at an elevation of 1140 m. Gareh Baygon Plain is located in a alluvial pan with 0% to 8% slop The GBP is a NW-SE syncline formed by the tectonic movements of the Zagros mountain ranges during the Mio-Plioccne epoch and filled up with calcareous alluvium trans-ported by the tributar
The climate is mediterranean with cold winters and hot summers. The mean annual
precipitation is 150 mm of which about 90%,that is of cyclonic origin, occurs during the late fall to early spring; convective storms contribute the rest in the summer .
Class A pan evaporation averages 2860 mm per|
•Class II soils, which are suitable for irrigated agriculture, cover 758.74-ha. Class III soils, which are suitable for spate irrigation and the ARG activities cover 1106.30-ha. Salt affected soils cover only 68.97-ha, 3.3% of the total studied area. |
Prevailing socio-economic conditions of those living in the location and/or nearby
public and national land on the government tenure
Agricultural activities,animal husbandry |
In the beginning of project implementation the rural people were so poor and their income was below the poverty level
On the basis of which criteria and/or indicator(s) (not related to The Strategy) the proposed practice and corresponding technology has been considered as 'best'?
We consider this practice base on long-term impact indicators as follows:
-The nearby towns and cities have been relieved of many of their social ills. Some of the arm and drug dealers have resumed farming. School attendance has dramatically increased. The ARG activities have put the GBP on the map. A 30-km paved road now connects the villages to the main highway. Electricity and telephone have been brought to the GBP.
-Hunger and poverty has been alleviated. As the number of bountiful wells has increased 10 fold to 130, the irrigated area has grown from 147-ha to 1193-ha. This has provided income for 250 operators and 95 hired hands. On average, each 4-ha of the ARG system creates one job opportunity. The price of farm fields increased over 1000 times in the first 5 years.
-We have diverted upwards of 150-mm3 of floodwater since 1983, of which about 120-mm3have recharged the aquifers. The aquifers have the potential to store over 200-mm3 of water, and s|
Section 2. Problems addressed (direct and indirect causes) and objectives of the best practice
Main problems addressed by the best practice
Overgrazing, fuelwood collection, senseless hunting, and the worst of all, the application of inappropriate technologies, moldboard plows and pumps, devastated this 6000-ha scrubland that teemed with wildlife. Watertable receded 10-m in 12 years, very close to the bedrock. Saltwater intrusion into the aquifer compounded the water shortage problem. Soil Stalinization was the outcome of irrigation with saline waters.
Outline specific land degradation problems addressed by the best practice
The forced sedentarization of transhumant pastoralists in the 1930s in the Gareh Bygone Plain (GBP), with a fragile arid ecosystem, initiated a desertification process that produced upwards of 500 environmental refugees. Overgrazing, fuelwood collection, senseless hunting, and the worst of all, the application of inappropriate technologies, moldboard plows and pumps, devastated this 6000-ha scrubland that teemed with wildlife. Watertable receded 10-m in 12 years, very close to the bedrock. Saltwater intrusion into the aquifer compounded the water shortage problem. Soil salinization was the outcome of irrigation with saline waters.
En masse city-ward migration of the inhabitants of 4 villages had left the GBP to a few hardy souls who eked out a living from 16 wells, which could be operated from one to 20 hours per day. The remaining women and children had to walk up to 6-km a day to fetch water, resulting in back pain and miscarriages for women and lower school attendance for children.|
Specify the objectives of the best practice
increase rainwater content in the soil, artificial recharge of groundwater and improving environmental aspects
increase cultivated area due to utilization of more water from the aquifer
improve rangelands and forest area due to a higher water content in the upper soil layers
|integrated, sustainable natural resources management action research due to identification and implementation land capacities |Capacity building due to improve the role of local people project implementation prosses
Section 3. Activities
Brief description of main activities, by objective
water productivity in agriculture, rangeland management, horticulture, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and conservation of natural resources|
Construction completion and maintenance of 620 ha FWS for artificial recharge of groundwaterc.Preparation of 451 ha land for irrigation;
Formation of 2 registered cooperatives by two of the villages benefiting from the ARG system and persuading the other two villages to form their own cooperatives;
Introducing income generating alternatives to the cooperatives
Short description and technical specifications of the technology
the technology have been designed and field tested stilling basins that convey relatively large flows (1-30 m3s-1) and convert them into a thin sheet of water, which spreads evenly over the first sedimentation basin without causing erosion. This has been achieved by constructing long channels (270-7300 m) with a constant cross-sectional area and a gradient of 0.003 for 85% of their length, which is gradually reduced to 0.000 in the next 5% of the length; the final 10% is level.
-We have developed an economical technique for construction of a gabion diversion weir, which costs<1% of a reinforced concrete weir of the same capacity.
The application of innovative technology
Planting Eucalyptus camaldulensis in the ARG systems solved Clogging of the vadose zone of the ARG systems by floodwater problem. Preferential flow of water towards the watertable is now facilitated through the channels formed by the decomposition of roots, reaching a depth of 28-m.
-The presence of geologic nitrate in the floodwater was disturbing, since NO3 is supposedly carcinogenic. Fortunately, we have discovered that Eucalyptus camaldulensis is a bioremediator of this pollutant. NO3 concentration in our groundwater is <5 mg L-1. Moreover, we have found that the floodwater furnishes the needed nitrate fertilizer for the spate-irrigated wheat and barley.
Deposition of the suspended load in the ARG system dramatically decreases the infiltration rate. Therefore, an environmentally friendly way to puncture the crust had to be found. Fortunately, Nature has come to our help. We discovered that a sowbug (Hemilepistus shirazi Schutz) drills holes 7-mm in diameter and up to 180-cm in depth around quail bush . We planted this prized forage in the ARG system and the sowbug invaded the site
Section 4. Institutions/actors involved (collaboration, participation, role of stakeholders)
Name and address of the institution developing the technology
Fars Research Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources,
Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran
(FRCANR)|http://www.farsagres.ir|Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (SUMAMAD)project |www.unesco.org
|Groundwater and Human Security – Case Studies( GWAHS)|www.unwater.unu.edu/file/get/66|Forest,Range and Watershed Organization of Iran|WWW.frw.org.ir|Shiraz Univercity|www.shirazu.ac.ir
Was the technology developed in partnership?
List the partners:
Educational and Research institutes- up to now more than 118 PHD and MS tesis related to water harvesting system and its impacts in GBP have been published.|Relative International Agency such as unesco and UNU
Sharing our experiences in the field of water harvesting and soil and water conservation technologies through sustainable development of drylands with other countries, which are involved in SUMAMAD project;
Specify the framework within which the technology was promoted
- Local initiative
- National initiative – government-led
- International initiative
- Programme/project-based initiative
Was the participation of local stakeholders, including CSOs, fostered in the development of the technology?
List local stakeholders involved:
(REaSSURED)an environment- related NGO that is registered by the Government of I.R. Iran. |society of Sedentarized nomads in GBP
Loal agreculture cooprations
For the stakeholders listed above, specify their role in the design, introduction, use and maintenance of the technology, if any.
Stablish networking and knowledge shering system on flood water systems and its benefits
improve local comunity participation for develop a special attitude in groundwater utilization, grazing of flood-irrigated rangeland, and particularly maintenance of the FWS systems and woodlots.|
Was the population living in the location and/or nearby involved in the development of the technology?
By means of what?
- Participatory approaches
Section 5. Contribution to impact
Describe on-site impacts (the major two impacts by category)
Construction the green village and providing livelihoods for 110 households .Marketing of honey provides additional income to local people, eco-labeling is being pursued for value addition|
Floodwater spreading provides desirable conditions through soil moisture and fertility improvement for afforestation in dry lands. The rehabilitating of desert area by planting trees was followed in this project. The tree plantations not only conserve soil and decrease wind erosion but also provide
desertification control through moving sand fixation with floodwater carried sediment and increasing soil moisture to regenerate natural vegetative cover. The protection of FWS implemented site from grazing has been done in this project for returning natural vegetation to climax.
Formation of 2 registered cooperatives by two of the villages benefiting from the ARG systems and persuading the other two villages to form their own cooperativesCapacity building of the cooperative members so they will act as honorary extension agents
Rangeland improvement through FWS is another scenario for desert mitigation. A 9 years research in GBP have been indicated there was a 7 – fold increase in the visible forage yield and 2 - fold increase in the canopy cover in FWS implemented sites.
Providing safe water to about 2500 villagers and 500 nomads and irrigation water for 451 ha of laser- leveled farm fields and improving water use efficiency and increase agricultural productivity by returning abandoned farmlands through increasing soil moisture and groundwater level
Describe the major two off-site (i.e. not occurring in the location but in the surrounding areas) impacts
Enhanced carbon sequestration by spate-irrigated tree plantation (Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Acacia salicina)
Providing the facilities for about 118 PhD and MS students theses research projects
This project have established 37 ARG research stations nationwide to fine tune our designs for different geological settings and climates and plan to construct 14 million hectares (mha) of ARG system on the coarse-grained, good quality alluvia that overlie potential aquifers. These systems will annually harvest 42 km3 of the wasted floodwaters.|
Impact on biodiversity and climate change
Explain the reasons:
Eucalypts plantation as one of the project activities in the Gareh Bygone Plain(GBP) offers a potential plant material for ameliorating the environment through carbon sequestration.
A very high rate of survival and a considerable rate of growth of Eucalyptus camaldulensis made this species the tree of choice for CO2 sequestration. Survival rate of this tree at the age of eight has been 86%. The annual increment of the same has been 7.76-m3ha-1. Assume that these two values are valid for a 10-year coppice rotation (Kowsar et al., 1996). Further assume that 70% of the yield is stemwood. Therefore, approximately 50 tons of CO2 are taken out of circulation by the wood industry, and semi-permanently removed from the atmospheric pool from each ha every 10 years. |
As water is the most limiting factor in arid and semi-arid agriculture, and just one watering at the right time dictates the difference between success and failure, it is logical to start with the adaptation trials of the available stock in the FWS systems.|
Aggradation of environmental quality, an inevitable outcome of FWS in the deserts, provides a new medium for the invasion of adaptable macro- and micro- species. Appearance of truffle (Terfezia ssp.), three years after the installation of the FWS systems in the Gareh Bygone Plain in southern Iran, heralded a good turn in the life of a desert. Invasion of a sowbug (Hemilepistus shirazi Schuttz), 10 years after the start of FWS in the GBP, was the glad tidings for the designers and builders of the systems. This isopod, which forages on the leaves of Atriplex lentiformis (Torr.) Wats., a C4 plant, burrows deep into the sediment and facilitates infiltration into the very thick crusts .There has been a 5-fold increase in infiltration rate (IR) of the sedimentation basins following the sowbug appearance. We find it advantageous to plant this forage species and propagate sowbugs to keep an almost constant IR in the FWS systems|
Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?
Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?
Iran is blessed with 43 mha of debris cones, alluvial fans and colluvial soils suitable for the water harvestig methods and artificial recharge of groundwater. Assuming that the average thickness and specific yield of these potential aquifers are 100m and 10%, respectively, they may store 4300 km3 of water, 10 times the mean yearly total precipitation of Iran. The entire volume of the reservoirs built in Iran in the modern times is less than 30 km3. The average cost of 1m3 of space behind large dams is $0.20 at the current official exchange rate. Therefore, the present value of the space in the aquifers, if utilized for water storage, is 860 billion dollars. The total cost of the ARG system construction on this 43 mha is approximately 3.5 billion dollars. Considering that the benefit: cost ratio of an ARG project implemented at the Gareh Bygone Plain in southern Iran was 20 (Bakhtiar et al. 1997), the real financial rewards of aquifer management come into focus. the losses of life and property due to floodings, the enhancement of environmental quality, such as carbon sequestration, and other intangible benefits were not included in arriving at the B:C ration of 20. Could these items be quantified and added to the benefits the B:C ratio would have certainly risen.|
Section 6. Adoption and replicability
Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?
Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?
This project have established 37 ARG research stations nationwide to fine tune our designs for different geological settings and climates in Iran
Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?
Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?
Specify which type of incentives:
- Policy or regulatory incentives (for example, related to market requirements and regulations, import/export, foreign investment, research & development support, etc)
- Financial incentives (for example, preferential rates, State aid, subsidies, cash grants, loan guarantees, etc)
Can you identify the three main conditions that led to the success of the presented best practice/technology?
The involved users
form a local cooperation and employed and trained local laborers, watchmen, masons, bulldozer operators, mechanics, and technical staff from the villages that ring project station. Competent rocks for construction of gabion diversion dams, chutes and drops were supplied from the local quarries.shering all benefits among the local people.|
Very good relation with academic and research institutes Providing the facilities more than 118 PhD and MS and BS students theses research projects.Holding more than 20 national and international workshops. Around 1000 university students and their professors visit GBP station every year and feild visit for students and governmers.the project findings are published in scientific journals and conference proceedings.
-"Water shortage" in the land of Iran, as in many other places, is one of the main challenges and therefore water harvesting projects are highly motivated by national government|
In your opinion, the best practice/technology you have proposed can be replicated, although with some level of adaptation, elsewhere?
At which level?
Section 7. Lessons learned
Related to human resources
Achievement of 2 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals to 2015, Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, Ensure environmental sustainability, may be facilitated through the application of the ARG techniques in a framework of an integrated approach|Flood, for the desert-dwellers, is a blessing in disguise, not a proverbial curse! Reclamation of eroded lands, conservation of biodiversity, provision of food, forage, and fuelwood and building materials, creation of employment opportunities, eradication of hunger, alleviation of poverty, reduction of flooding hazards and creation of a green environment are adjunct benefits of floodwater harnessing for the ARG.
|Establishing a close rapport with the nomads and transhumants in need of help is essential for success. They are suspicious of outsiders. As the women perform most of the backbreaking works, any activity on their behalf is an infringement of the male authority--and that causes grave consequences! We have persuaded their city-educated children to communicate our ideas to their elders.
Related to financial aspects
-Coarse-grained alluvium provides the best reservoirs in deserts; it can store astronomical volumes of good quality water for millennia. Considering all the costs incurred in large dam construction, the cost of providing one unit of water through the ARG is 5-20% of that provided by such structures; location, depth to the water table, electricity and fuel cost are the determinants of this range|
Related to technical aspects
"Water shortage" in the land of Iran, as in many other places, is an excuse of the timid souls who let the floodwaters go to waste while looking desperate.
|We have an astronomic wealth in the form of 30,000 dry qanats, which supplied about 300-m3 s-1before pumps lowered their water table below the drainage lines. Raising the water table to the pre-pump era will rejuvenate this environmentally friendly system, and save us the cost of pumping water.