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Report by UNESCO and Partners Reviews Challenges in Managing Iraq’s Marshlands

25 August 2011: According to a newly released report by the UN Integrated Water Task Force, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), within the context of the first four-year UN Development Assistance Framework for Iraq, marshlands in Iraq must be managed by balancing the various benefits derived from their ecosystems.

According to the report, entitled "Managing Change in the Marshlands: Iraq's Critical Challenge," since the 1970s, more than 90 per cent of the original Iraqi Marshlands area has been desiccated through upstream damming and systematic draining. By 2000, the only remaining marsh was a portion of Al-Hawizeh on the southern border with Iran. The Marshlands area is currently subject to a series of threats, including upstream water management, climate change, competition over land and resources, economic development and demographic pressure.

According to the report, to address those threats a policy framework should be developed that enables the sustainable development of the Marshlands and addresses trade-offs among current and future uses of the Marshlands, such as those between agricultural production and water quality, land use and biodiversity, development of oil industry water use and aquatic biodiversity. [Publication: Managing Change in the Marshlands: Iraq's Critical Challenge]