A Wetland Future for Iraq?
Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 114-130
AbstractA national effort to draw attention to the importance and restoration of degraded Iraqi wetlands was initiated in 2004 with significant international interest and assistance. Overall, that enthusiasm focused on specific regions of Iraq and opened doors to consider all wetlands in Iraq. Over the next nine years, numerous projects to restore wetland habitat for fish and wildlife and for human use focused on the Chebayish and Hawizeh Marsh areas of southeastern Iraq. The Iraq Ministry of Environment, Iraq Ministry of Water Resources, and Nature Iraq have launched national biodiversity surveys and Key Biodiversity Areas assessments throughout the nation. A key milestone in 2007 was Iraq’s accession to its first international environmental treaty, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Iraq’s first Ramsar Wetland of International Importance at Hawizeh Marsh, the Central Marshes National Park, and draft management plans for both areas were created. More progress on these projects and other national wetland initiatives has not been fully possible yet.
Two national initiatives to advance wetland conservation across Iraq should be pursued: (i) a national wetland policy that appeals to all the regions and peoples of Iraq; and (ii) a plan to expand the influence of the Ramsar Convention across Iraq. These efforts could support expansion of the number of Ramsar sites in Iraq as announced in Iraq’s National Report to the Ramsar Convention in 2012. This paper discusses each of the issues noted here, drawing on examples in other jurisdictions. The development of the oil and gas deposits associated with the Hawizeh Ramsar site is also discussed
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