Nature Iraq would like to congratulate our team member Saman Abdulrahman Ahmad on the completion of his PhD at the University of Sulaimani. Saman's work as a botanist, which has been invaluable to the Key Biodiversity Areas project and the Darwin Project, has flowered in his dissertation, entitled Vascular Plants of Awraman Region in Kurdistan Iraq. In addition to conducting field work in the 660 square kilometer region close to the border with Iran over three years, Saman undertook surveys of scientific literature and examinations of herbaria specimens inside Iraq and internationally. Saman's work has added 15 families and 426 taxa to the list of plants found in the area, adds 18 species to the Flora of Iraq, and describes 4 species new to science. The study covered a total of 1084 taxa (about 46% of total flora of Kurdistan region and about 39% of total flora of Iraq). Saman's investigation covered all vascular plants of Hawraman, including those collected by earlier botanists. The study also covered additional information, such as local names, ethnobotanical uses (e.g., food, medicine, tools, fibers, ornaments, flavors, drinks, and condiments).
October was a big month for the Darwin Project, with experts from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and BirdLife International spending two weeks in Sulaimani with Nature Iraq staff.
Over the course of 3 weeks, the team conducted a plant survey of Piramagroon Mountain with local experts’ assistance and training, mainly based in Zewe village, with a few days spent in the hidden hanging valley (Qola Rash) just below one of the mountain’s peaks.
A four-day bird identification training took place simultaneously to the surveys in the Nature Iraq Eco Camp. Ten participants attended the training: 5 from Kurdistan, 4 of whom were forestry police, and 5 from other parts of the country. Topics included an introduction to field work, methods of counting birds, criteria for selection of protected areas, and management of protected areas.
The bird training was followed by a field training for University of Sulaimani students who participated in the online course conducted by Nature Iraq, RBGE, Birdlife, and the University. The training focused on plant profiling and a nature walk which reflected what students learned in the online course.
Following the success of the online course this year, with 24 students and staff from the University completing 5 to 6 modules, the course will be reprised for the coming year.
Our partner BirdLife International's online documentation of the migration of the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing, The Amazing Journey, has been detailing the journey of three of these birds who have been tagged with satellite trackers. Most recently, one of the birds was located in Saudi Arabia, and her flight path took her directly over western Iraq. Nature Iraq has been involved in the tracking of and research on these birds, and this is exciting news for us. Head to the Amazing Journey page to learn more about these remarkable birds, and their journey.