Nature Iraq and the Nature Iraq Foundation with the American Canoe Association and Majestic Heights Outdoor Adventures, a Kurdistan Iraq-based eco-tourism company, are pleased to announce the Rawanduz River Expedition, a new initiative to protect rivers in Iraq, and the kick-off of a 60-day crowdfunding campaign to make this expedition possible.
Environmental protection in Iraq is complicated by negative perceptions of the country. In the global imagination, Iraq is a desert wasteland, devoid of natural beauty and lacking breathtaking scenery. In Iraqis' understanding, their country's environment is hopelessly neglected, abused by forces beyond their control. We want to tell a new story to change these attitudes, and show Iraq's last wild rivers in their true beauty and splendor. The expedition will do this in two ways:
We will lead a kayak expedition down the Rawanduz River of Kurdistan, northern Iraq in the spring of 2014 with a team of professional kayakers, river advocates, and a videographer who will conduct outreach to local communities raising awareness about river threats.
Also, the story of the expedition will be retold in a short film, which will chronicle this record-setting first kayak expedition down the full length of the Rawanduz River in northern Iraq. The film will be used to raise awareness locally and internationally, showcasing the tourism potential of these rivers and demonstrating how they can be protected and used sustainably.
The Rawanduz River is a major tributary to the Greater Zab River, a major tributary to the Tigris and the last wild river in Iraq. Rivers and the environment in Iraq are under grave threats from uncontrolled development. This is particularly true in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. After decades of conflict this relatively stable part of the country is rushing to develop and in so doing is putting its last wild and scenic rivers on the chopping block without realizing what a tremendous resource that they may lose.
The expedition is raising $10,000 through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo to support the costs of filmmaking. The full expedition cost will be approximately $70,000 for equipment, transportation and logistics and much of this funding will come from within Iraq and/or will be donated by the expedition participants themselves.
Contributors to the Indiegogo campaign will of course receive our copious thanks, but for different levels of support t-shirts, bumper stickers, autographed photos, copies of the final film and your name included in the credits are additional benefits. Other perks include birding, hiking, and river trips in Iraq, American Canoe Association Membership, producer credits on the film, and even your own kayak! Additionally, if you are donating to the campaign in the United States, your pledge will also be tax deductible.
You can read the full story on Indiegogo or the Waterkeepers Iraq page, but the successful completion of the Tigris River Flotilla in the fall of 2013 inspired us to continue to do community outreach along the rivers and waterways in Iraq. As with the Flotilla, the Rawanduz River Expedition will encourage more people to enjoy these rivers and work for their protection.
We only have 60 days to raise the funds we need, so please support the Rawanduz Kayak Expedition Campaign on Indiegogo, and help us spread the word by sharing this link and encouraging your contacts to support the Expedition:
For more information, please contact us, or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter.