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The Assad government has long neglected Syria's environment and natural heritage in favor of actions that have short-term gains but that have increased the rate of desertification and ruined agricultural land.The civil war has created a new set of problems: lack of protection for reservations, increased smuggling encouraged by a lack of law and order and government policies aimed at currying public favor, and the destruction of land as a military tactic.Before the revolution, Syria's natural heritage was managed in a simplistic and shortsighted way. In cases including that of the Iris Damascena, the government declined to protect arid lands with rare flora species. The lack of local involvement in managing these areas caused hostility among the local population toward conservation, which was perceived as a tool of government control.In May 2011, the Syrian regime's Local Administration and Environment Ministry issued a law that allowed people to build on land zoned as agricultural. Natural heritage in Syria is being damaged, and in some cases lost forever, as a result of the war.
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