Ahwar of Southern Iraq
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq represents a unique combination of intertwining cultural and natural values. The property contains the remnants of some of the world’s first cities, which were regional hubs of commerce, culture, religion, learning and increasingly complex systems of societal administration. The earliest known piece of literature was found within the property, which itself refers to one of the component parts. The property is split into seven components so as to capture the dispersed cities and also the dynamically moving marshes. The dynamism of the marshes, which are fed by the Tigris and Euphrates, underpins the rise and fall of the cities and also the natural value of the property. The changeability of the water courses creates a series of successional habitats and water courses that are of global importance for migratory bird species and of regional significance for other taxa The property acts as an island rich in natural and cultural heritage which though still at threat, is slowly being restored.
Ahwar of Southern Iraq
MIXED NATURAL & CULTURAL WORLD HERITAGE SITE
2016: Inscribed on the World Heritage List under cultural criteria iii and v and natural criteria ix and x.
STATEMENT OF OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee issued the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value at the time of inscription:
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq evolved as part of the wider alluvial plain during the final stage of the alpine tectonic movement, which also lead to the evolvement of the Zagros Mountains. This took place during the late Pliocene to early Pleistocene eras. Several factors intertwined to construct the property including; tectonic movements, climatic changes, river hydrology dynamics, precipitation variation, and changes in sea level. The sea level variation and the climatic changes had a significant role in influencing the quantity and quality of water entering the Ahwar through rivers and their branches, in addition to advancement and regression of the sea and intrusion during dry to semi-dry to wet conditions during the last 18,000 years.
Between the 5th and 3rd millennium BCE, the level of the Arabian Gulf reached its maximum extent some 200 km inland of the present coastline with marshes stretching further inland. The marshy and moving landscape of this deltaic plain was the heartland where the first cities flourished. Uruk, Ur and Eridu, the three cultural components of the property, were originally situated on the margins of freshwater marshes and developed into some of the most important urban centers of southern Mesopotamia. These cities saw the origin of writing, monumental architecture in the form of mudbrick temples and ziggurats, and complex technologies and societies. A vast corpus of cuneiform texts and archaeological evidence testifies to the centrality of the marshes for the economy, worldview and religious beliefs of successive cultures in southern Mesopotamia.
Starting in the 2nd millennium BCE, the sea regressed towards the south. This led to another climatic change towards a more arid environment and the drying up of the ancient marshes. Environmental change contributed to the decline of the great cities of southern Mesopotamia. Today the mudbrick ruins of Uruk, Ur and Eridu are dominated by the remains of ziggurats which still stand high above the arid but striking landscape of the desiccated alluvial plain. With the regression of the Gulf, new marshes formed to the southeast. The main components of the Ahwar as we know them today were formed during this period around 3,000 years ago.
The Ahwar are generally fed by the branches of the Tigris and Euphrates, in addition to extremely low winter rainfall and subsequent floods. These factors collectively determine the surface area covered by water as well as its fluctuations; the peak taking place in the flooding season associated with rainfall upstream in the basin during winter and then affected by the snowmelt during spring, and reaching the lowest levels during the dry summer period. This fluctuation in water levels and surface areas has resulted in highly dynamic and variable ecological conditions.
The Huwaizah Marshes component is a unique freshwater system, receiving high water quantities from floods and limited amounts of seasonal rain which descends from the northern and northeastern heights. Concurrently, it is the sole natural component that was not subject to drastic drought during the man-induced drainage phase in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the salvation of its key ecological elements. This led it to become the primary refuge for many of the key bird species of African and Indian origin in the Middle East, which have since spread back to other components after the reflooding took place in early 2000s.
By contrast, the Central Marshes component comprises today’s ecological core of the Ahwar. Being distinctive for its horizontally extensive ecosystems, it provides a vast habitat for many of the viable populations of taxa of high biodiversity and conservation importance.
Moving towards the east and south, the East and West Hammar Marshes components embrace a particular ecological phenomenon in contrast with the other components. Here, the salt water from the sea progresses inland affected on one side by tidal movements in the southern-most regions of marshes, while on the other side, pushing its way into the extended desert to the southeast. This creates very specific ecological conditions with fish species from marine origins utilizing the area for reproduction in the East Hammar, while the West Hammar comprises the last stopover area for millions of migrating birds before entering the vast Arabian Desert.
Criterion (iii): The remains of the Mesopotamian cities of Uruk, Ur and Eridu offer a complete testimony to the growth and subsequent decline of southern Mesopotamian urban centers and societies from the Ubaid and Sumerian periods until the Babylonian and Hellenistic periods. The three cities were major religious, political, economic and cultural centers which emerged and grew during a period of profound change in human history. These three components of the property bear witness to the full repertoire of the contribution of southern Mesopotamian cultures to the development of ancient Near Eastern urbanized societies and the history of mankind as a whole: the construction of monumental public works and structures in the form of ziggurats, temples, palaces, city walls, and hydraulic works; a class structured society reflected in the urban layout which included royal tombs and palaces, sacred precincts, public storehouses, areas dedicated to industries, and extensive residential neighborhoods; the centralized control of resources and surplus which gave rise to the first writing system and administrative archives; and conspicuous consumption of imported goods. This exceptionally creative period in human history left its marks across place and time.
Criterion (v): The remains of the ancient cities of Uruk, Ur and Eridu – today in the desert but originally situated near freshwater marshes which receded or became saline before drying up – best exemplify the impact of the unstable deltaic landscape of the Tigris and Euphrates upon the rise and fall of large urban centers. Testimonies of this relict wetland landscape are found today in the cities' topography as traces of shallow depressions which held permanent or seasonal marshes, dry waterways and canal beds, and settlement mounds formed upon what were once islets surrounded by marsh water. Architectural elements, archaeological evidence and an important corpus of cuneiform texts further document how the landscape of wetlands contributed to shaping the religious beliefs, cultic practices, and literary and artistic expressions of successive cultures in southern Mesopotamia. The contemporary Ahwar of southern Iraq bear a strong cultural significance as they offer the closest living representation of the environmental context which fostered the development of the first cities and complex societies in the region, and fashioned the worldview of Mesopotamian cultures. The association of the contemporary Ahwar with some of the most prominent and best documented ancient urban centers of southern Iraq allows for understanding the unique ancient cultural landscape of alluvial Mesopotamia where cities were islands embedded in a marshy plain.
Criterion (ix): The site contains outstanding examples representing ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh and salt water ecosystems and communities of various taxa.
The Ahwar of southern Iraq may be one the largest-scale wetland ecosystem that is located in the most arid environment globally. The grand mosaic of the four components of the property is an exceptional example of ongoing ecological processes which reflect this extreme and harsh environment, particularly regarding almost complete dependence on riverine influx and negligible direct contribution of precipitation on-site to the water budget, very high water temperatures around or in excess of 30°C in summer with no thermal stratification of the water column, high irradiation which leads to very high primary production, high dissolved oxygen concentrations throughout the water column and high overall ecosystem productivity.
The bird migration and the migration of fish and shrimp species which occur within the property’s habitats reflect an adaptation process by these animals to long-term seasonal fluctuations in water levels and other ecological variables.
The Ahwar have developed an amazing ecological resilience, remarkable adaptive capacity against fluctuations and environmental change, in addition to the velocity of recovery processes. The Ahwar of Iraq are set apart by the fact that the last dramatic recovery process took place very recently, right after the drastic destruction of the Ahwar during the second half of the last century and the re-flooding of the Ahwar at the beginning of the new millennium.
Criterion (x): The proposed site contains highly important and significant habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of high conservation and scientific importance. The Ahwar of southern Iraq are one of the world’s most important freshwater ecosystems situated within an extremely arid environment with some of the highest evaporation and transpiration levels, and some of the lowest levels of rainfall. They can be considered a "wetland island in a vast ocean of desert". The Ahwar embrace a mosaic of habitats critical for a significant number of taxa, including globally threatened and range-restricted species and isolated populations, thus creating a site of global calibre in terms of species of conservation priority.
The Ahwar host 12 globally threatened bird species, such as the vulnerable Marbled Teal. Another vulnerable species, the Basra Reed-Warbler, which is a restricted-range species, has more than 70% of its breeding population in the Marshes. The Ahwar also include critical natural habitats for three threatened mammal species, including the Smooth-coated Otter and the Bunn’s Bandicot Rat. The Euphrates Soft-shell Turtle is an endangered species that is only known from a few localities in Iraq and Iran, whereas Murray’s Combfingered Gecko has a restricted range limited to the Ahwar, Shatt Al Arab and the Iranian western shores on the Arabian Gulf.
The three archaeological ensembles included in the property offer a comprehensive picture of the Ubaid and Sumerian urbanization process within their original marshlands environment. All the major archaeological and architectural features of Eridu, Uruk, and Ur are contained within the boundaries of the property ensuring that each component part bears a complete significance and contributes to expressing the Outstanding Universal Value of the property as a whole.
The use of mud as the main building material in southern Mesopotamia creates specific conservation conditions. The toll which the passing of time took on the abandoned southern Mesopotamian cities is heavier than in the case of stone or fired brick architecture found in other regions of the ancient world where remains can be monumental and visually impressive. Yet the remains of the four ziggurats of Eridu, Uruk and Ur, however eroded, still tower over the desert landscape and provide a striking visual testimony of the antiquity and durability of the most emblematic architectural features of Mesopotamian cities.
Layers of sedimentation protected the remains of Uruk, Ur and Eridu until the 20th century when archaeological excavations exposed several buildings anew. Eridu’s excavated remains were later reburied except for the ziggurat. In Uruk and Ur there were some instances of incompatible material used to consolidate or protect the remains, whereas others were left exposed with the result that some have become affected by erosion caused mainly by rain and dust storms. Furthermore, large areas of the three cities are still unearthed, leaving room for further study of archaeological and conservation techniques respectful of the property’s integrity.
Uruk, Ur and Eridu are protected under the Iraqi Law of Antiquities and Heritage and are provided with personnel to ensure the protection and monitoring of the antiquities. Lastly, only Ur has suffered limited and reversible damages during the recent conflict and remedial measures are introduced under the new management plan.
The four natural components of the property and their associated corridors comprise a vast region of over 210,000 ha, thus being of sufficient size to adequately support all key natural values including the ongoing ecological and biological processes occurring in the terrestrial, water and marshland ecosystems. The large size of the associated buffer zones around each of the four components, totaling more than 200,000 additional hectares, further serves the long term protection of the property on a whole as well as at the component level.
The four components embrace the vast majority of the breeding grounds of key bird species within different regions of the property. The breeding grounds are areas of low human intervention where reed vegetation is used to build nests on the banks of the small islets abundant in the area which are surrounded with extensive water bodies located in isolation from the dry lands and away from potential predators.
Numerous populations of more than 197 species of migrating water birds associated with the Palearctic region settle on the property and spend winter periods here during their west Eurasia-Caspian-Nile and Eurasian-Africa route migrations. The numbers of landing migrating birds is increasing on the property, paralleling the improving levels of rehabilitation. Further, increasing records of the occurrence of globally threatened species are being documented, hence reflecting positively on the property’s ecological integrity.
The existing legal frameworks in relationship to the Ahwar are well developed with the national nature conservation bylaw endorsement by the government cabinet in late 2013.
Considering the particulars of mud architecture, the conditions of authenticity as regards the material and substance are considered to be met by the visible presence of a series of emblematic public buildings in the three cultural components of the property. Previous excavations at Ur and Eridu have concentrated on monumental public buildings and allowed for a good understanding of the spatial organization of the political, administrative and religious sections of the cities. In Ur, the main harbor, situated outside the boundaries of the property, has yet to be excavated and the boundaries of the property might be extended at a later stage to include it. No major restoration or conservation projects have been carried out with the exception of the 1960s rebuilding of part of the outer shell of the Ur ziggurat using baked brick and limited amounts of cement. These interventions did not affect the original structure and shape of the monument. More recent conservation of the site has been done using compatible material as much as possible.
Changes in the water regime have modified the hydrological and ecological environment of southern Iraq as the marshes moved southeastward through space and time. The remains of Uruk, Ur and Eridu are today surrounded by a desert landscape and are at a significant distance from the marsh components of the property and the sea. Taking this ecological reality into consideration, the conditions of authenticity are considered to be met by including in the property the ancient cities of Ur, Uruk and Eridu.
2006: Hawizeh Marshes designated as a Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance.
2014: Central Marshes designated as a Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance.
2014: Hammar Marshes designated as a Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance.
2016: The property is inscribed as a World Heritage site under cultural criteria iii and v and natural criteria ix and x.
IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORY
II National Park: Central Marshes National Park
Not assigned: West Hammar Nature Reserve and East Hammar Nature Reserve
Anatolian-Iranian Desert (2.20.8)
The property is split between seven components, all located in the southern region of Iraq, with 99% of the property found in just four components: the West Hammar Marshes (38%), the central marshes (29%), the Huwaizah marshes (23%) and the East Hammar marshes (9%). The seven components span four governorates in Iraq, with the Huwaizah marshes also in close proximity to the Iranian border. The property’s nearest large conurbation is Basrah, which lies approximately 20km south-east of the property’s southernmost point.
DATES AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
c. 6,500 years ago The earliest settlements are established along the banks of branches of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.
c. 5,000 years ago The city of Tell Eridu (now Tell Abu Shahrain) is founded.
c. 4,000 years ago The city of Ur is established in southern Mesopotamia.
c. 3,800 years ago The city of Uruk is founded as an Ubaid settlement, slowly growing to become the largest city in ancient Iraq.
c. 3,000 years ago Settlements have grown into cities, each with its own identity, such as Nippur and Girsa.
c. 2,000 years ago The city of Eridu is in decline with increasingly fewer inhabitants.
1988: The Iraqi-Iranian war ends and a large-scale programme of dam and canal construction is initiated.
1990s: As a result of the newly created dams and canals, the Ahwar experiences increasingly reduced water levels.
2001: The Ahwar is reduced to c. 1,300 km2 compared to c. 20,000 km2 in the 1970s, reaching its lowest point.
2003: Following political reform, many of the water retention and diversion structures are destroyed, resulting in a gradually replenishing Ahwar.
2016: The property is inscribed as a World Heritage site under cultural criteria iii and v and natural criteria ix and x.
The property’s natural areas are entirely owned by the Iraqi treasury, as represented by the Ministry of Finance and managed by the government’s ministers. The property’s cultural components are under the legal responsibility of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and are owned by the state. Local semi-nomadic tribes also inhabit the property and maintain the customary transaction system that enables them to change the land tenure without acquiring permission from the local population, though this system is not officially recognised by the Iraqi government.
The property covers 211,544 ha and has an additional buffer zone of 209,321 ha.
The entire property is less than 20 metres above sea level (a.s.l). There is a gradual decline in altitude from the north to the south resulting in the southernmost part of the property being only around 2 metres a.s.l.
The property is located in the southern part of the alluvial plane, one of three of Iraq’s topographical zones. The alluvial plane is an extensive flat area with slight undulations towards the Arabian Gulf. The soils within the property are predominantly non-consolidated sediments that consist mainly of fine sand and silt sediments that have been deposited over time by the extensive network of channels and rivers. The property is fed by branches of both the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the flooding of which in winter leads to dynamic fluctuation in the area’s land cover. The depth and salinity of the marshes is variable throughout the property, but the property is generally described as a shallow freshwater alluvial marsh.
The region is considered arid, with low levels of rainfall and high levels of evapotranspiration, particularly in the hot summer months where day temperatures can often exceed 50oC. Comparatively, the coldest months, between December and February, can often experience monthly average temperatures as low as 8oC and minimums below freezing. Precipitation mostly occurs between January and March, with there often being fewer than 40 rainy days a year, each with precipitation levels below 10mm. Annual average rainfall ranges from 40 to 185 mm. The property is most arid in the west and least arid in the east, which counters evaporation rates which are highest in the west and lowest in the east.
There are 86 plant species within the property, spanning 34 families, with Cyperaceae being the most abundant. The property’s vegetation was significantly affected by the draining of the marshes, though with the recent increase in water supply, there are now some positive indications of restoration (Richardson & Hussain, 2006). There is a clear successional structure in much of the vegetation, from aquatic to marsh and finally fully terrestrial communities. There are seven distinct types of vegetation types in the property’s successional habitats:
Free floating vegetation, particularly evident in the flowering period in the summer and characterised by Lemna spp.
Floating (rooted) leaved aquatic vegetation: Many of the species in this vegetation type are rooted to the underlying sediment and have floating leaves, e.g. Nymphaeae alba.
Submerged aquatic vegetation: Considered one of the most common within the property, it dominates inland water bodies whether stagnant or running, and include abundant populations of Potamageton spp. and Najas spp.
Halophytic vegetation: This vegetation type spreads on the marsh areas bordering water bodies and terrestrial areas; the Chenopodiaceae family is particularly dominant in this vegetation type.
Helophytic vegetation: Dominant in the marsh areas and spread widely across the property, it is characterised by reed species.
Riparian vegetation: Extending across the banks of inland water bodies and inland streams, this vegetation type contains predominantly perennial shrubs and annual species, e.g. Tamarix spp., Capparis spinosa, Polgonum salicifolium and Bacopa monnieri.
Trees (woody vegetation): As water bodies dry, taller and more arboreal species develop, e.g. Salix spp. and Populus spp.
The Ahwar supports 38 mammal, 264 bird, 21 amphibian and reptile and 44 fish species. There are an estimated 26 species or subspecies reported to be endemic to either the marshes or the river systems. There are four mammals worthy of particular mention: the Bunn’s short-tailed bandicoot rat (Nesokia bunnii: EN), a subspecies of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata: VU), the restricted range Mesopotamian gerbil (Gerbillius mesopotamiae: LC) and Euphrates jerboa (Allactaga euphratica: NT). The property is however perhaps most notable for its important populations of bird species. The Ahwar are indeed considered one of the largest wintering and stop-over sites within an arid climate, being critical for migratory species on the Siberia-Caspian-Nile route. The property also acts as a refuge for many bird species, including the Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis: EN) along with 23 other bird species classified as globally threatened or near threatened (IUCN Red List 2016). The property often hosts globally significant proportions of 35 bird species, especially in the peak migration season. Of the 44 fish species within the property, 24 are freshwater and 20 are marine. There are 14 fish species that are considered endemic to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, six of which have been recorded in wider Ahwar marshes. There are also a number of anadromous (living in both fresh and saline water) fish species, which represent the marshes changeable nature. There is one threatened reptile species, the soft-shell turtle (Rafetus euphraticus: EN), which is present in each of the four natural components.
The property’s cultural components are some of the most significant centres of the Mesopotamian civilisation. These cities harboured the origin of writing, including the oldest known literature, the Gilgamesh Epic, and saw the evolution of increasingly complex technologies and societal structures. The success of the cities and religious structures were intrinsically linked to the surrounding marshes, whose changeable nature ultimately resulted in its inevitable decline as the cities’ surroundings became more arid, though the marshes and their variability still impact on the region’s culture today (Al‐Mudaffar Fawzi et al. 2016). The property is one of the world’s largest inland delta systems in a hot and arid environment. The marshes are of global importance for numerous bird species, as evidenced by three Important Bird Areas overlapping the property, as well as three Ramsar Wetland Sites (BirdLife International 2016a; BirdLife International 2016b; BirdLife International 2016c). The property also supports important populations of several mammal and fish species, including species of anadromous fish. The future of the site is uncertain, as there are several serious threats to the property’s long-term integrity; however, in the short term the site represents an important cultural link to the past and a vital refuge for the region’s biodiversity in the present.
The three cultural components of the property span two cities (Ur and Uruk) and one sacred site (Tell Eridu). Around 5,500 BC, during the Ubaid period, cities were beginning to become established along the banks and branches of the Euphrates and Tigris. These cities, such as Nippur, Bad-tibira and Lagash have become known as the Sumerian civilisation, and specialised in specific trades, such as weaving. Religion was an integral part of this civilisation, with each city having its own pantheon of deities, often relating to the natural history surrounding that city. Ziggurats, large pyramidal religious structures began to be built throughout the region especially between the 5th and 3rd millennium BC.
Ur first emerged as a city state in the first Ur Dynasty (c. 2600 BC), when it became one of the wealthiest Sumerian cities. The archaeological site is surrounded by a mud brick wall within which there are impressive remains of palaces, temples, burial sites, royal tombs and a ziggurat. Around 80,000 tablets containing an early form of writing (cuneiform) were retrieved from Ur, which have provided extraordinary insight into life in the Sumerian period. The tablets reiterate the importance of the marshes for the society’s economy, trade and religion.
Uruk (now Warka) is located approximately 80 km northwest of Ur and was the largest conurbation in ancient Iraq in the 4th millennium BC. The original city was located southwest of the Euphrates whereas now it lies northeast, demonstrating the changeability of the river network, a factor in the city’s demise. Uruk was populated from the end of the Ubaid period (c. 3,800 BC) to the late Sassanid period (7th century AD). The archaeological site shows several phases of the city’s growth and decline, with evidence of multiple cities being built on the foundations of the previous one. The city was vast, incorporating sacred precincts, temples, two ziggurats and extensive residential quarters which were organised by profession. Additional cuneiform tables were found in Uruk, including the Gilgamesh Epic, the earliest known literary text which even mentions Uruk’s city walls. Before Uruk’s decline, the Temple of Charyos was built, which survives to this day.
The property’s third cultural component, Tell Eridu, was more of a religious site than a city. The site has an extensive temple complex and includes the remains of a ziggurat on the top of a sacred mound. The mound is thought to have supported 18 successive temples over a period of 3,000 years.
LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION
A census carried out in 2007 indicated that there were approximately 350,000 individuals living in the broader Ahwar region, of which it is thought approximately 5% (17,500) resided within the property, and an additional 60% (210,000) within the property’s buffer zone. Today, most settlements are located on the edge of Ahwar, but are less populated than they might have been following the forced displacement of many Ahwar residents from the area in the 1990s (Al‐Mudaffar Fawzi et al. 2016).
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES
Tourism activities remain limited throughout the property. This is due to two major factors: the current security situation and the lack of promotion and marketing of the property’s cultural and natural values for tourism. Tourism is almost entirely from Iraqi nationals on short, often daytrips, from neighbouring areas. Visitor facilities also remain limited, in part due to limited demand, though mud houses are being created by Nature Iraq as part of an ecotourism initiative to encourage tourism.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES
Monitoring is undertaken at different temporal scales on various natural indicators within the property, including water quantity, water quality, flora (number and density), fauna (number and density), including birds and mammals, the state of buildings and rate of human encroachment. Research into the property’s various taxonomic groups has been undertaken monthly since 2004. This monitoring is undertaken largely through a collaboration between the Ministry of Environment, Nature Iraq and the Ministry of Water Resources. Facilities within the property were briefly mentioned above. Furthermore, the archaeological site at Ur has a dig house that hosts research missions and a laboratory.
A management plan for the property is being developed, including individual management plans for each of the four natural components (Republic of Iraq. Ministry of Environment 2014). There is currently limited information pertaining to the property’s management plans in terms of implementation and the IUCN Evaluation posits concern on the property’s management capacity (Garstecki & Amr 2011). The cited aims of the property’s management plan include: defining the property’s vision, ensuring effective coordination and cooperation, facilitating involvement (especially of the local communities), ensuring adequate staffing levels and financial resources, responding to threats and undertaking the coordination of operational management (Garstecki 2013).
The property has a number of notable threats, the most serious of which being the uncertain and fluctuating abundance of water, which underpins the property’s natural value. Issues relating to the property’s water supply dominated every meeting during the IUCN evaluation mission, but are largely out of the property’s control as they relate to the upstream damming from Iraq’s neighbouring countries (Richardson 2010). Additional management constraints include habitat loss from agricultural expansion, unsustainable reed gathering and overfishing. Of particular concern is also the hunting of game birds during the migratory season, thus threatening an important part of the property’s natural value. Tourism is not considered as a threat, although it is noted that there is potential for future tourism growth.
In 2014, the three cultural components had a total of 336 guards, 94 archaeologists and 24 administrative staff. The exact number of staff for the property’s natural components is not known; however, it is understood that staff categories for the natural components include conservation, management, tourism, veterinary science, finance and water regulation, and activities are often implemented in collaboration with external organisations and agencies.
Two levels of funding are available to the property: federal and regional. Both funding sources are available annually to the Departments of Environment, Water Resources and Antiquities. National NGOs, such as Nature Iraq, also help deliver on a significant part of the property’s initiatives, which often have their own sources of funding from international sponsors. In general terms, the current level of funding is considered sufficient for the property’s needs, but for optimal management and monitoring to be achieved more would be required.
Chair of the Committee, Ministry of Environment, Arasat Al Hindiya Street, P.O Box 10062, Baghdad, Iraq. Tel. +(964) 7801956848,
The principal sources for the above information were the original nomination for World Heritage status, the IUCN evaluation report and the site’s management plan.
Al‐Mudaffar Fawzi, N. et al. (2016). Effects of Mesopotamian Marsh (Iraq) desiccation on the cultural knowledge and livelihood of Marsh Arab women. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, 2(3).
BirdLife International (2016a). Central Marshes Important Bird Area. Available at: www.birdlife.org.
BirdLife International (2016b). Haur Al Hammar Important Bird Area. Available at: www.birdlife.org.
BirdLife International (2016c). Hawizeh Important Bird Area. Available at: www.birdlife.org.
Garstecki, T. (2013). Development of a Management Planning Framework for Ecosystem Management.
Garstecki, T. & Amr, Z. (2011). Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management in the Iraqi Marshlands. Screening Study on Potential World Heritage Nomination. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
IUCN Red List (2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: <www.iucnredlist.org> [Accessed June 20, 2012].
Republic of Iraq. Ministry of Environment. (2014). “The Ahwar” Marshlands of Southern Iraq. The Consolidated Management Plan for the Protected Areas of the Huwaizah Marshes, the Central Marshes, East Hammar Marshes and the West Hammar Marshes,
Richardson, C.J. (2010). The status of Mesopotamian Marsh restoration in Iraq: A case study of transboundary water issues and internal water allocation problems. Towards New Solutions in Managing Environmental Crisis. Helsinki University, Helsinki, 59–72.