The Mesopotamian Marshlands of southern Iraq were once the third-largest wetlands in the world, originally extending between 12,000 and 15,000 square kilometers.They were a vital resource for regional fisheries, reeds, and other natural resources; the home of the indigenous Ma’dan Marsh Arab culture, which is directly linked to ancient Sumeria; and a globally important area for large numbers of migrant and wintering birds, as well as being the native habitat of endemic birds and other valuable wildlife.
Ammar Zakri, Nature Iraq’s CEO, said of the project: “The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation’s generous support will enable us to build on the long work we have already done in the marshes, and expand the scope of our activities related to the new National Park.“
The project will consist of three major interrelated activities:
- Data collection and dissemination: We will supplement our long running information gathering projects by conducting targeted threat assessments, bird counts, and socio-economic surveys of fishing, hunting, and gathering practices.
- Capacity building: We will strengthen the capacity of government officials and of community members in and around the National Park, with the aim of enable more effective and appropriate hunting and natural resource regulations to be formulated and their enforcement strengthened to eliminate unsustainable fishing and hunting practices and encourage better management of the marshlands.
- Socio-economic development: We will identify institutions and individuals active in socio-economic development, bolster participation in existing institutions, and facilitate the formation of new institutions, if necessary.