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Nature Iraq
Activities and Programs

What We Do

Our work at Nature Iraq involves direct hands-on involvement with all aspects of Iraq’s environmental health. After years of neglect and ravaging abuse due to 35 years of war and sanctions, Iraq’s environment is not only in great need of care and rebuilding, but also and more importantly, is in dire need of an overall evaluation of its present condition. This is especially true as our country’s leaders move forward with reconstruction and socio-economic development efforts that will allow Iraq to play a positive role within the global environmental community.

Whether one believes the source of today’s world environmental problems are climate change-induced or not, their effects are enormous, devastating and do not recognize man-made borders. Loss of land due to spreading desertification causes increased conflict and migration, affects weather patterns and regional temperatures, creates adverse health conditions such as lower infant mortality rates and increased respiratory illness, and impairs global carbon sequestration capacity. Just as particles from dust storms emanating from the Gobi Desert reach and affect air quality in China, Korea, Japan and North America, the dust storms of southern Iraq cause asthmatic deaths in Baghdad and cloud the skies of not only of Kurdistan, but flow across Iraq’s borders. Equally alarming, growing populations with their related increases in economic activity and water usage result in higher pollution levels, especially in the agricultural sector, and adversely affect water supplies worldwide.

We at Nature Iraq are well aware of these detrimental trends and are working - by way of ongoing field surveys and monitoring - to create an accurate baseline representative of the present-day condition of Iraq’s environment in the north and south. Survey results are being used to determine the capability of Iraq’s environment, in terms of supporting appropriate and sustainable socio-economic development. Our hope is that by working from this environmentally-centered blueprint, such adverse trends within Iraq - many of which are the result of human action and not only affect Iraq’s environmental health, but also that of our immediate and distant international neighbors - can be reversed. Working alongside other environmentally conscious partners, we are for the first time in history addressing the overall environmental health of a nation, including issues of water scarcity, sustainable farming, pollution, and environmental restoration, before the cessation of violent conflict. While this sometimes involves working under extremely insecure conditions, we at Nature Iraq believe that a healthy and sustainable Iraq is the only option as we move forward to address the many environmental issues within our country. Nature Iraq feels strongly that this work is fundamental to the future of Iraq and its people.


The following are just some of the exciting projects Nature Iraq is currently conducting:

Key Biodiversity Area Assessment and Monitoring – One of Nature Iraq’s major initiatives over the last two years has been our KBA Project to locate and assess potential areas of biological diversity and to install a program of continual and periodic monitoring of these areas. At present, we are monitoring KBAs in Northern Iraq, Kurdistan and Iraq’s Southern Mesopotamian Marshlands. Our intention is to expand this work to Central and Western Iraq once security is better established.

Key biodiversity areas are specific locations chosen for their importance in maintaining the various populations of plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and fish and other water related species, including benthic macro invertebrates, zooplankton, phytoplankton, and aquatic plants. Since these locations are building blocks in the design and maintenance of effective ecological networks, key biodiversity areas are foundational to landscape-level conservation planning.

Habitat Mapping and Monitoring – With the help of modern technology, Nature Iraq has begun to use remote sensing capabilities via satellite imagery to evaluate large areas of Iraq’s southern marshes. Interpretation of these satellite images allows our field teams to determine development of problem areas, thus enabling a quick response. Working alongside our Italian partners, we are in the process of developing a habitat classification system for the southern marshes that will aid future socio-economic development and delineation of key biodiversity sites.

Establishment of a Southern Central Mesopotamian Marshland National Park – Perhaps one of the most exciting endeavors Nature Iraq is involved in is its partnership with the Italian government under the “umbrella” project titled New Eden – is helping to create a development plan for the establishment of Iraq’s first National Park. First and foremost, the focus of the National Park will be to conserve the ancient traditions and rich cultural heritage of the region. Other objectives include a sustainable marshland restoration program that acts in concert with socio-economic development of the entire region include restoration of the marshlands ecosystem; protection and re-introduction of endangered endemic species; encouraging and providing opportunities for scientific research and biodiversity monitoring; the creation of educational environmental awareness programs; generating sustainable socio-economic activities such as fish farming and tourism; and the creation of an ecological network between the marshlands of the lower Mesopotamia system.

Fish Cage Aquaculture Pilot Project
Aquaculture - the raising of fish for consumption by consumers -is an important income-generating activity in Iraq. However, it is not always conducted in an efficient or environmentally friendly manner. As part of the New Eden Project - the planning process for Iraq’s first National Park - Nature Iraq introduced its Fish Cage Aquaculture Project in January 2008. Designed and constructed by Nature Iraq, our first floating fish cage - measuring 12x6x3 meters and framed with 6 inch diameter cPVC piping filled with spray foam insulation to ensure buoyancy - was placed in the waters of the Euphrates in april 2008. The site, located near the town of Abu Subat, was chosen according to international criteria. UV-resistant nets line the cage, allow for water circulation and keep the fingerlings from escaping during the several months it takes for them to mature, after which they will be are harvested and sold on the market. We plan to construct 30 more such cages. The success of this project will address critical socio-economic development needs in Iraq by creating new jobs and economic opportunities that are environmentally sensitive and sustainable.

Water Quality Index and Indices of Biotic Integrity Projects
There is no doubt that water concerns are a priority focus in the international environmental study arena. Doing its part to help monitor water supplies, Nature Iraq has adopted a new project that reduces technical water quality information down to a simple description of a specific site’s water quality. This Water Quality Index (WQI) will allow us to share with various public and scientific communities, the wealth of information we are continually gathering during water quality and biodiversity monitoring activities at numerous and specific sites throughout Iraq. The WQI will also aid resource managers in prioritizing and formulating remedies for water quality problems. In addition, Nature Iraq has begun to compile Indices of Biotic Integrity (IBI) data of animal and plant life, or biota from these same sites. IBI is a related ecosystem water quality measurement tool. For example, plankton is ideal for offshore water quality monitoring, because it is inexpensive to collect and highly sensitive to changes in ecosystems. Nature Iraq is developing IBI’s for plankton, macro-invertebrates and fish. The IWQ and IBIs will be useful tools for ranking the suitability of water for use by humans, agriculture, recreation, livestock, aquatic life and wildlife, and it is hoped that these indices will provide Iraqi scientists and decision-makers a method for prioritizing research and taking restorative actions in the Marshlands.


Current Projects 
Auda Marsh Restoration Project
Capacity Building Program
Darbandikhan Basin Project
Fish Cage Aquaculture Pilot Project
Gauging Stations Project
Habitat Mapping and Monitoring Project
Key Biodiversity Area Project
Mesopotamian Marshland National Park Project
New Eden Information System Project
New Eden Village Project
Socio-Economic Project
Twin Rivers Institute for Scientific Research *
Water Quality Index and Indices of Biotic Integrity Projects 

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