Going to be in Sulaimani for the event? Want to help out? Email us!
The second annual Green Music and Arts Festival will be held in Sulaimani's Azadi Park from 4 to 7 on the afternoon of Friday, April 26th. Come out to hear music and see performances from Iraqi and international artists, play games, check out exhibitions of photography, browse sustainable and traditionally made crafts, and learn more about the awesome work NGOs are doing to improve the environment in Iraq.
We are also pleased to say that Nature Iraq is officially partnering with the Earth Day Network, the coordinating body behind global earth day events, which works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. The Green Festival has always been deliberately been held as close to Earth Day, April 22nd, as possible, and we are deeply excited about the official recognition this brings our event.
Going to be in Sulaimani for the event? Want to help out? Email us!
The Telegraph reports on the ecotourism potential of the Mesopotamian Marshlands according to Nature Iraq founder Azzam Alwash, the winner of one of the world's most prestigious environmental prizes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Peace Be Upon You, السلام عليكم
Engineer Azzam Alwash is intent on restoring the fabled Mesopotamian marshes in southern Iraq that Saddam Hussein tried to wreck
Some say the marshes of southern Iraq are the origin of the Garden of Eden story. Why did Saddam Hussein drain them?
He said it was to make dry land for agriculture. He dug canals and diverted the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, causing 90 per cent of the marshes to dry out. But really, he saw the Marsh Arabs who lived there, fishing, cutting reeds and tending water buffalo, as opponents. He couldn’t send in heavy tanks to flush them out. Drains worked better.
But drains aren’t the only threat?
No. Turkey has been building dams upstream on the two rivers for irrigation and hydroelectricity. The next, the Ilisu dam, will be finished next year. Less water comes to the marshes now, and the timing of the flow is different.
Do you still think you can save the marshes?
Yes. When I was a boy I lived in the city of Nasiriyah right on the edge of the marsh. Ten years ago, as I watched TV pictures of US troops crossing the dried-up marshes to depose Saddam, I recalled how I had gone duck hunting there with my father, who was a government water engineer. So I left California and dedicated my life to bringing them back. But it is not just me. The Marsh Arabs also returned and tore down Saddam’s works.
Advertisement: Replay AdHow are you going about your task?
Nature Iraq, the NGO I founded, has done biological surveys and drawn up a master plan. On our advice, the government is constructing new banks and canals to keep parts of the marshes wet all year round and help sustain the local economy. Last winter, 76 per cent of the marshes were flooded. We hope the government will very soon turn the marshes into a national park.
So is it a managed marsh now?
It always has been. The Marsh Arabs have been burning the reeds annually for thousands of years, otherwise the waterways would choke and the marsh would dry up. Now, we are managing the water. Without a strong spring pulse of water down the rivers the biology will change.
Is life changing on the marshes?
Very much. Marsh Arabs used to live isolated lives out among the reed beds. It was primitive and romantic. Today they mostly live in towns on the banks. They have cellphones and satellite dishes. They damage the fisheries with electric fishing. They shoot the birds. We see garbage floating in the marshes. They have to live, but our task will be to help them use the resources more sustainably.
How will you do that?
We hope tourists will provide another source of income, and an incentive to protect the marshes.
Oil is an issue. Will you try to ban drilling there?
No. I would prefer to work with the oil companies if they will be careful how they work. And they too may provide money for the park.
Might you end up destroying the uniqueness of the marshes in order to save them?
I don’t think so. If they were the Garden of Eden, then we continue to manage them like a garden.
Nature Iraq Founder Honored for Protecting the Marshes of “Eden"
Nature Iraq is happy to announce the overhaul of our website. We believe this redesign will be significantly more user friendly, and will allow us to share information more readily, both here and through social media channels. Thoughts? Send us an email, or let us know in the comments.
Also, if you're looking for something on the old website you can't find here, check out the cached version of the old page.
From the 24th to 30th of March, Nature Iraq facilitated a workshop in Chibaish presented by Dr. Mark Nelson of the Institute of Echotechnics and Prof. Meridel Rubenstein of Nanyang Technological University, accompanied by David Tocchetti and Clarence Lam. 15 members of the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources and local Chibaish officials received instruction on passive, environmentally friendly Wastewater technologies, that included visits to a proposed wastewater garden site and the Iraqi marshlands. Participants were awarded a certificate of achievement.
To see the photos click here.
Thanks to the work of the Tigris River Flotilla, for the first time in 50 years the Sheikhs of the Mesopotamian marshlands will travel through the timeless water in a Tarada.
The Mesopotamian Marshlands of southern Iraq are the home of the Ma'dan Marsh Arabs (who have a directancestral link to the peoples of ancient Sumer). Their sheiks once travelled in this watery world in graceful,long (up to 8 to 10 meter) Tarada, which were once the war canoes of the marshes.
They carried up to 12 people andcould cover 80 kilometers in a day with ease.
The Tarada is a bitumen-coated reed canoe, with large iron-bossed nails studding in its flanks. The canoe was made famous by the British explorer Wilfred Thessiger in the 1950s, who traveled extensively within the region by Tarada.
As the wetlands have declined and shrunk in size, the Taradas disappeared from the reedbeds of the Mesopotamian marshlands. In Chibaish, on April first the Tarada will appear again for the first time in 50 years.
Check out this article on the bird box project of the Darwin Conservation program, written by our long-time supporter and adviser, Richard Porter.
The two major focuses of Nature Iraq's Darwin Initiative Project are education and field research, and this program melded the two. In preparation for a camera trapping survey on Piramagroon Mountain, Nature Iraq staff visited two schools in two villages near where the camera traps would be set, Shadalla and Kani Shook, to give talks and presentations to students and community about why we are there and what we are doing. This helps to convey the aim of the survey to local stakeholders and engage them in the project from the beginning. Throughout the program, students will be told about the progress of the survey and towards the end of the survey, they will be given a tour of one of the study sites where the traps are set. After the survey, the results will be shared with the students, providing a new perspective on their native landscape.