Iraq’s Birds and Marshes Return Amid Bullets, Bombs and Violence

mesopotamian_marshes-nature_-iraq-sml Amid Sectarian Chaos, Bird Lovers Persevere

By Stephen Leahy

Jan 25 (IPS) – Can Iraqi dreams for a better future be glimpsed in the publication Thursday of the first-ever field guide to the country’s 387 bird species?

“For Iraq, a nation that has lost so much of its wildlife in the last 20 years, this book opens the door for the growing conservation movement in this country,” said Ali Douabul of Nature Iraq, an Iraqi NGO focused on the protection and restoration of the environment.

Published in Arabic, the “Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq” is a fully illustrated guide based on three years of surveys by mainly Iraqi and Jordanian birders and biologists.

Why a bird book for Iraq?

“It has opened the door to the outside world for Iraqi scientists,” said Azzam Alwash, CEO of Nature Iraq.

Many Iraqis have received training in conservation, water management and biodiversity as a result of the effort, Alwash told IPS on a shaky phone connection from Baghdad. “We’ve been able to find new information about endangered species that will be released in the months to come.”

The funding for the project was provided the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank and the Ornithological Society of the Middle East.

“The book will help Iraqis recognise their own birds and understand that their country, and especially the Mesopotamian marshlands, is an important region for birds,” says Barry Warner of the University of Waterloo, Canada and director of the Canada-Iraq Marshlands Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to help Iraqis understand, assess and manage their wetlands.Sacred Ibis - Photo Courtesy of Nature Iraq/CIMI/BirdLife

“The marshlands are a very important ecosystem in the Middle East and they are making a comeback,” Warner said in an interview.

For complete story click Amid Sectarian Chaos, Bird Lovers Persevere

A few of my other articles on Iraq :

Iraq’s Environmental Nightmare

Bungled Peace-Building in Afghanistan & Iraq Opened Door to Terrorism

Elections Pushed Iraq Into Current Chaos as Predicted

Lesson in Democracy from Iraq

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