Qara Dagh area is a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) site, as it is home to a significant number of endemic, rare, and threatened fauna and flora. Our recent studies indicate that Persian Leopards and other protected species have returned to the area. However, illegal hunting is causing negative impacts. Construction of roads and electrical line extensions cause habitat fragmentation. Drilling for oil in the area consumes ground and surface water. Limestone quarrying is causing erosion and dams are being contemplated in the area as well. These overlapping factors directly impact the future sustainability of the habitat.
Nature Iraq has secured agreements with the regional government to set aside a large area to protect the habitat. With Kurdistan Environmental Protection and Improvement Commission (KEPIC) partnership, Our project aims to protect a portion of the Qara Dagh area and manage it systematically with comprehensive engagement of key stakeholders. We also aim to engage lawmakers to manage the protected area and promote eco-tourism. This will enable the local stakeholders to be local self-appointed wardens for the protection of wildlife. As part of this project, a ranger facility, and an Eco Lodge will be constructed.
The project objectives are to:
- Engage the stakeholders in meetings to discuss their needs and how that can be accommodated with the management plan for the protected area.
- Create the management structure for the protected area in the long term.
- Build an Eco Lodge to train future rangers and to hold awareness raising activities for the stakeholders as the management plan takes shape and is implemented.
- Enforce regulations and build the nucleus of the protected area by establishing a ranger station next to the Eco Lodge.
- Create a road map for local activists and stakeholders on how to replicate the process in the creation of similar protected areas that are all interconnected to create a larger safe haven of protected habitats.