Lut Desert – World Natural Heritage in Iran

The Lut Desert, or Dasht-e-Lut, is located in the southeastern part of the country. From June to October, this arid subtropical region is swept away by strong winds, transporting sediment and causing aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. The site thus presents some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian yardang (large curving mountain ridges) terrain. It also contains vast rocky deserts and sand dunes. The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes.

Accreditation year: 2016
Criterion: (vii)(viii)
Area: 2,278,015 ha
Buffer zone: 1,794,134 ha

Outstanding global value

The Lut Desert is located in the southeastern part of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an arid continental subtropical region known for its many spectacular desert landforms. With an area of ​​2,278,015 hectares, the area is large and surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,794,134 hectares. In the Persian language ‘Lut’ refers to the open land with no water and no vegetation. The hotel is located in an inner basin surrounded by mountains, so it is in the shade and along with the high temperatures, the climate is extremely arid. This area typically has the highest land surface temperature on Earth: a temperature of 70.7°C has been recorded in this area.

A steep north-south barometric gradient develops throughout the region in spring and summer causing strong NNW-SSE winds to blow over the area from June to October every year. These long-term strong winds push sand grains at great velocities, generating sediment transport and aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. As a result, the area possesses what is considered the world’s finest example of aeolian yardang terrain, as well as vast rocky deserts and dunes. Yardangs are foundation features carved and streamlined by sandblasting. They cover about a third of the property and appear as large and dramatic folds throughout the landscape with ridges and corridors oriented parallel to the prevailing wind direction. The ridges are called kaluts.

The wind also stripped the soil on the hard outcrops, leaving vast desert pavements of rock (hamada) with sandblasted faceted stones (artifacts) over about 12% of the area. A vast black rock desert covers the Gandom Beryan basalt plateau to the northwest of the core zone. The rocky deserts east of Lut cover, like a crust of crushed stone, large plains, which are cut-off rocks and gently slope away from the foothills of the neighboring hills.

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Sand carried by the wind and carried away by intermittent currents has accumulated to the south and east, where huge sand seas have formed over 40% of the property. These areas include active dunes, some of which reach heights of 475 m and are among the largest in the world. Desert Lut displays a variety of forms, including linear dunes, crescent-shaped, star-shaped, and funnel-shaped compounds. Where the sand is trapped around vegetative leeches at the slightly wetter edge of the basin, nebkhas form 12 m or more in height, thought to be the tallest such features in the world.

Dissolved minerals evaporate from incoming streams leading to white evaporating crystals and crusts in river beds, in yardang corridors, and in salt pans (playa). The small topography is the result of the pressurizing effects of crystal growth, including salt polygons, tepee-cracked salt crusts, small salt pingos (or vesicles), salt karrens, and gypsum domes.

The area was previously described as ‘devoid of life’ and information on biological resources in the area is limited. However, the property possesses flora and fauna adapted to extreme conditions including interestingly adapted insect fauna.

Criterion (vii): The Lut Desert protects the globally recognized iconic hot desert landscape, one of the hottest places on earth. It is famous for a spectacular range of terrain, namely the yardang (large curving mountain ranges) to the west of the site and the sandy sea to the east. The yardangs are so large and impressive that they can be easily seen from space. Lut is particularly significant for the large variety of desert landforms found in a relatively small area. The main attributes of the aesthetic values ​​of the untouched property relate to the sheer diversity and scale of the terrain; a visually stunning desert color mosaic; and uninterrupted views over vast and varied dune systems that transition into vast areas of flat desert pavement.

Criterion (viii): The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes associated with erosion and deposition features in a hot desert. The yardang/kalut terrains are considered the best in the world in terms of degree, continuity and uninterrupted height. The Lut Sand Sea is one of the best-developed active dune regions in the world, exhibiting a wide variety of dunes (crescent tops, star dunes, complex linear dunes, funnel dunes). ) with dunes being among the tallest observed anywhere on our planet. Nebkha dune fields (dunes formed around plants) are common, with dunes as high in Lut as anywhere else. Volatile topography (salt) is shown in a variety of ways, including crystalline river bed with white salt layer, salt pan (playa) with polygonal fractured crust, and tepee fractured salt crust caused by pressure forceps, plaster domes, small salt pingos (or blisters) and salted karren. Other arid landforms include extensive hamadas (rock desert pavements or regs) that often lie on frontal surfaces with frontal rock (air formations), barren land, and alluvial fans (bajada).

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Due to its distance from major population centers and extreme environmental conditions, including extreme heat and lack of water, much of the Lut Desert is inaccessible and therefore naturally protected. Apart from some small private landholdings in villages in the named area and the buffer zone west of Lut, much of the land in the Lut Desert is owned by the state.

In the area, only the western edge consists of settlements (there are 28 villages, the largest of which is just over 700 people). In the buffer zone there are 15 villages and the town of Shahdad with a population of nearly 6,000 people. The area has evidence of habitation from 7,000 years ago, however the area has always been around the site’s periphery, because the aridity of the site makes it largely uninhabitable.

Knowledge of the property’s biodiversity and ecological values ​​is limited and would benefit from more investigation to better understand the links between geographic heritage, biodiversity and biodiversity. thai.

Protection and management requirements

Heritage is the subject of a complex and multi-layered protection regime and a variety of applicable laws, regulations and protection mechanisms (14 legal documents). Legal protection and management are provided by state-level agencies working according to their specific mandate. Three major agencies share responsibility for asset management and conservation, namely the Forest, Ranges and Watershed Management Organization; Iran’s Ministry of Environment; and Iran Cultural Heritage, Crafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). The protection of non-conserved lands, watersheds, grassland management and desertification are under the control of the Forest, Range and Basin Management Organisation. This agency is responsible for preventing illegal desert mining. The two sanctuaries located in the northwest and southeast are under the management and protection of Iran’s Environment Department. The Darband-e Ravar “wildlife sanctuary” in the northwest partially overlaps with this area but the Bobolab “no-hunting” zone in the southeast only overlaps with the buffer zone. In addition to the management of the protected area, the Ministry of Environment is responsible for the environmental assessment of development projects. The Lut Desert is also on the ICHHTO’s National Heritage Register. The Ministry of Environment is responsible for the environmental assessment of development projects. The Lut Desert is also on the ICHHTO’s National Heritage Register. The Ministry of Environment is responsible for the environmental assessment of development projects. The Lut Desert is also on the ICHHTO’s National Heritage Register.

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The property has a basic management plan at the time of registration, which should elaborate on the threats and how to deal with these; coordination arrangements for the property; specific regulatory action, time frame and responsible agency for implementation. Establishing and maintaining such a plan is an essential requirement for asset protection.

There is also a need to gradually build improved technical capacity to manage the natural values ​​of the Lut Desert based on the intrinsic relationships between geomorphology, geology and biodiversity and biodiversity. its desert adaptation, as well as its relationships with local communities and visitors. Strong measures are needed to protect assets from inappropriate tourism and from long-term off-road motorized access. It is also necessary to monitor impacts and carry out restoration of degraded areas in the site, particularly in the northwest where the site includes several villages on the outskirts of Shadad and Anduhjerd.

Lut . desert map

Video of the Lut . Desert

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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