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Hara forests

Hara forests

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The Hara forests is the common name for mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s on the southern coast of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, particularly on and near the island of Qeshm
Qeshm
Qeshm Qeshm Qeshm (Persian: قشم - pronounced kē´shm is an Iranian island situated in the Strait of Hormuz, and separated from the mainland by the Clarence Strait/Khuran in the Persian Gulf .-Geography:...

 in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. Dominated by the species Avicennia marina
Avicennia marina
Avicennia marina, commonly known as grey mangrove or white mangrove, is a species of mangrove tree classified in the plant family Acanthaceae...

, known locally as the "hara" or "harra" tree, the forests represent an important ecological resource. The "Hara Protected Area" on Quesm and the nearly mainland is a biosphere
Biosphere
The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed and self-regulating system...

 reserve where commercial use is restricted to fishing (mainly shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

), tourist boat trips, and limited mangrove cutting for animal feed.

Hara tree characteristics


The hara tree, Avicennia marina, grows to heights of three to eight meters and has bright green leaves and twigs. The tree is a salt-water plant that is often submerged at high tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

. It usually blossoms and bears fruit from mid-July to August, with yellow flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s and a sweet almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

-like fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

. The seeds fall into the water, where wave action takes them to more stationary parts of the sea. The hara seeds become fixed in the soil layers of the sea and grow. The area on the north shore of Qeshm and the neighboring mainland is particularly suited to the growth of the plant, and large mangrove forests have developed.

The long, narrow, oval leaves of the tree have nutritious value for livestock roughly equivalent to barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 and alfalfa
Alfalfa
Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and many other countries. It is known as lucerne in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and known as...

. The roots of the tree are knee-form, aerial, sponge-like and usually external. There is a filtration property in the hara tree's bark which allows the plant to absorb sweet water while salt is eliminated.

Forest extent and significance


The hara forest on Qeshm and the opposite mainland covers an area of approximately 20 km by 20 km, with many tidal channels. The traditional stock breeders of Qeshm Island used the leaves of the hara tree for feeding livestock. In 1972 the Hara Protected Area was established to preserve suitable conditions for the growth and maintenance of the forests.

The area is a major habitat for migratory bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s in the cold season, and for reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, and varieties of arthropoda and bivalves. Green (or hooked) turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s and venomous aquatic snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s are also indigenous to the forests. Bird life includes heron
Heron
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

s, flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus , the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae...

s, pelican
Pelican
A pelican, derived from the Greek word πελεκυς pelekys is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae....

s, and angler eagle
Eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

s. Another important feature of these forests is the appropriate and suitable seabed conditions for the ovulation of fish in the Persian Gulf.

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