Gavkhouni Wetland

Artist: Fereshteh Alamshah
Location: Isfahan, Iran
Researcher: Parisa Tehranizadeh

One of the most attractive ecotourist sites in Iran is Gavkhouni wetland. Gavkhouni, also written as Gavkhuni or Batlaq-e-Gavkhuni, located in central Iran, east of the city of Esfahan, is the terminal basin of the Zayandeh River. Gavkhouni is a salt marsh with a salinity of 315% and an average depth of about 1 m. The salt marsh can dry up in summer. The Zayandeh River originates in the Zagros Mountains and travels around 300 km, before terminating in Gavkhouni. Gavkhouni receives pollution from Esfahan and other urban sources.

However in recent years, due to the lack of precipitation in Isfahan and central Iran, there has been a big demand for drinking water as well as water for industrial and agricultural purposes, which forced provincial officials to redirect the scant water that had gathered in the Gavkhooni Wetland to meet these needs and leave the wetlands dry again and greatly endangered all living species such as fish, snakes and several types of wild and immigrant birds.

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But recently several NGOs as well as artists organizations have held various performances and protests and invited people and provincial officials to highlight the importance of this phenomenon and encourage people to participate in saving this wetland.

This project was conducted and organized by Fereshteh Alamshah who is one of the active members of environmental art in Iran and recently illustrated one of her latest project names” Yunes’s Fishes”, collaborating with 21 local people of Varzaneh city.

She said that today Gavkhouni wetland is one of the greatest concerns for artist and she has spent a lot of time considering this issue.

In this work of art, every participant had wrapped him or herself in a plastic bag to resemble the fishes, which are captivated in sand and muds of Gavkhouni wetland and will finally die in the dry base of the land.

All these fishes together will form a giant fish, which will also die in a symbolic way. This is perfectly reflecting the natural disasters, which are facing the nature of the surrounding area.

The reason that she name this project a “Yunes’s Fishes” is that this name resembles an ancient and religious story of Younes prophet who was captivated in a big fish stomach as a punishment from God.

In her mind our Disobedience and nature destruction in recent days will also lead us to the temporary death and captivation in our sins.

She said that there were 21 ordinary people from local area as well as some of the city hall members who participated in this work and there were several other works of arts which had been illustrated in this work such as sand drawing of flying birds which used to settle down in this area every year to pass the winter, as well as the stone made endanger snakes which are naturally habitants to this wetland. There were several other simple works which could mean a lot, including, the stitches on cracks of the desert.

The artists and ordinary people who had participated in this work hope that this work of art can attract people and attention to save the area.

Tourism and the environment are so close to each other and the physical environment creates innumerable attraction for sustainable tourism. Geotourism as a new choice in sustainable tourism not only focuses on all natural and humanistic features but also considers the performance of one place. One can play an effective role in the national development and national economy diversification of the area by planning and recognizing the opportunities as well as the limitation of Geotourism. Thus, there are two questions here: 1. What are the potentialities and limitations of Geotourism development? 2. Which strategies are required for developing this type of tourism and following national and regional development?

Ecotourism activities are gradually becoming popular in Iran. Although Iran has a diverse climate and remarkable biodiversity, major limitations such as lack of conclusive regulations, educational programs and infrastructure, have contributed to the slowing of the development of ecotourism in the country. Iran has various natural attractions such as temperate forests in the north with high humidity and rainfall (1700 mm), deserts and salt lakes in the central part of Iran, high mountains (such as 5,604 meter‐high Mount Damavand), glaciers and coastal areas.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency