Efforts to save Lake Urmia — once a favorite getaway for Iranians — might be too little, too late.
Photographs by Solmaz Daryani
Iran’s Lake Urmia once boasted flocks of flamingos and swarms of tourists eager to swim in salty waters that covered an area more than twice the size of Luxembourg. Today, it more closely resembles a desert, littered with rusted cruise ships and beached docks (above). According to a 2014 report by an international consortium of scientists, Urmia has shrunk by a staggering 88 percent since the 1970s.
Droughts are partly to blame, but the primary culprits are dams and irrigation projects that divert the lake’s water sources. President Hassan Rouhani’s government pledged $5 billion for conservation efforts in 2014, but Iranian photographer Solmaz Daryani, whose family lives near Urmia, worries that may be too little, too late. Her photography of the desiccated landscape aims “to investigate the impact on [people] around the lake” and document what she describes as one of Iran’s “most unfortunate environmental disasters.”
A version of this photo essay originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of FP magazine.