Training for Iraq's wetland managers


Iraq Marshlands Training Course

Iraq is not yet a Ramsar Contracting Party but its Government has indicated strong interest in accession in the near future. As part of Iraq's development of a national wetland program, training a cadre of wetland managers and scientists has been seen as a key tool. Through its partnerships with the academic, government and non-government community inside and outside Iraq, training programs are now being implemented. The first Iraqi National Marshland Managers Training Course was held June 26-July 6, 2005 in the city of Basrah, Iraq -- designed as the first in a series of annual courses, this year's edition covered 12 days including a field trip to the Central Marsh.

The course was exclusively designed and implemented by Iraqis, for Iraqis, and is presented in Arabic. A course manual was prepared based on this experience so that it can be repeated each year. This manual will be updated and added to in future courses. A copy of this year's manual was given to each participant.

The course was held at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Basrah University, and is the first national wetland course ever held inside Iraq. It is designed to give practical, professional information on the ecology, management and status of the marshes and is a capacity building project organized by the partners engaged in the Canada-Iraq Marshlands Initiative (see Iraq partners include the Iraq Foundation, Nature Iraq, the University of Basrah, and government ministries. Assistance for the development of this new national course was provided by the University of Waterloo in Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, and Environment Canada.

It included 30 participants nominated by their institutions, including middle managers and graduate students. They represent a cross-section of the institutions engaged in the study and management of the marshes of Iraq. Participants included six from the Iraq Ministry of the Environment, six from the Iraq Ministry of Water Resources, three from Thi Qar University, two from Babylon University, one from the University of Technology, one from Kufa University, and five from the Faculty of Science, five from the Marine Science Center, two from the Faculty of Agriculture, and one from Faculty of Education - all at Basrah University.

Lecturers in this course included 17 of Iraq's top university scientists in their respective fields. The lectures provided a cross-section of information on the ecology, biology, management and importance of the southern marshlands of Iraq. The lectures included: Geographical Setting, Geochemistry and Sedimentology, Hydrology, Marsh Destruction and Impacts, Wetland Ecosystems, Aquatic Plants, Phytoplankton and Primary Productivity, Zooplankton and Secondary Production, Insects, Benthic Fauna, Fish, Socio-Economic Values, Mammals, Birds, Water Quality and Pollution, and Restoration Efforts.

Clayton Rubec
Associate Director
Canada-Iraq Marshlands Initiative

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