World Wetlands Day in Libya

12/02/2007

Benghazi


Libya celebrates the World Wetland Day 2007

From a fast look to the map of Libya, it appears a very dry country, where very limited rainfall to the coastal strip, whilst many oases are scattered on the yellowish brown desert that almost comprising the whole country. But with deeper look Libya is not that dry, many wetland types can be found from Sebkhas, wadis and dams, to the coastal lagoons and little islands, as well the huge man-made lakes of the Great man-made River, a project considered by many in the present world as extraordinary human innovation.

Libya joined the Ramsar Convention in 2000. Prior to that, contact has started with MedWet the Mediterranean initiative to implement Ramsar in the region.

On 3rd of February 2007 The Environment General Authority (Ramsar/MedWet National focal point authority) have organized a full day of activities celebrating the world wetlands day 2007 at Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city and the city containing the most wetlands on the national level.

The event was featured with an exceptional public attendance, from EGA, University of Garyounis in Benghazi, University of Omar Al Mokhtar in Al Bayda, University of Al Marj, Libyan scouts, The national committee for voluntary works, youths of the Libyan Red Crescent, Al Zuhur kindergarten, school teachers, fishermen associations of Benghazi, Local police, Local and National TV, Radio and Press.

The day was started with recitation of some quran verses, that indicating the need to conserve the earth, seas and their creatures. The opening speech of Director of EGA office in Benghazi, Dr. Faraj Mabrouk, who conveyed the greetings of the secretary of the people's committee of EGA Dr. Abdul-Hakim Elwaer, who followed the preparations of this event day by day, and emphasized the importance of wetlands to human civilization in past, present and future. He also indicated the importance of having the same theme around the world on fisheries relationship with coastal wetlands. He also pointed out that this is one of many days EGA is planning to celebrate in 2007.

The acting secretary of the people's committee of Shabiyat Benghazi raised the issue of volunteer activities and its vital role for taking the initiative in conservation and awareness process. He also presented the Shabiya (Municipality) well to collaborate with EGA in declaring new Ramsar sites in and around Benghazi, especially after the recent studies conducted by EGA and other collaborating organizations on the regional level on Libyan waterbirds and wetland sites.

The director of the national committee for voluntary works in Benghazi spoke about the welling of this committee that comprised of volunteers to help EGA in its activities in Benghazi, not only this issue of wetlands but all other works of EGA in nature conservation and awareness campaigns.

A very interesting show and songs was presented by young children of Al Zuhur kindergarten of Benghazi. The songs were on the environment and voluntary services.

The scientific part of the celebration was comprised of two lectures, first by Dr. Musbah Al Mgasbi (professor of plant ecology in Garyounis University). Dr. Al Mgasbi spoke about types of wetlands in Cyrenica region and the potential for these habitats both for migratory birds and plant life. He also listed the threats facing wetlands in Libya and the need for more studies and a national inventory to protect more sites under ramsar convention.

The second speaker was Dr. Abdalla Ben Abdalla (Lecturer in Marine Biology and Icthyology, Alfateh University). His talk was about the importance of coastal wetlands to coastal small scale artisanal fisheries. He also indicated the status of marine fisheries in Libya and management needs for this sector, to reach the sustainability in using our natural resources.

The Documentary show prepared by the Secretariat of Ramsar was screened afterwards with introductory comments by Abdulmaula HAMZA, Medwet/CEPA focal point.

After a small meal, participants moved to Jeliana, one of the main wetlands (sebkha) in Benghazi, which hosts thousands of waterbirds during winter time. The main objectives were to conduct a cleaning campaign and exercise some bird watching along the edges of the wetland. Three groups were competing to clean a part of the sebkha banks for two hours. See photos.

Day ended at 17:00 with collection of garbage sacs to the municipal waste collection cars, then gifts, posters and WWD stickers were distributed to all participants.

Note: From 4-14 February 2007, EGA in collaboration with Al Fateh University, RAC/SPA and ONCFS is conducting a nation wide waterbird census at 55 different wetland sites.

Abdulmaula Abdelmajid Hamza
Environment General Authority
Tripoli
Libya

Libyan Scouts

School teachers are excellent messengers for wetland conservation

Children of kindergarten singing for the environment

Children of kindergarten singing for the environment

(left) Dr Ben Abdalla speaking on coastal fisheries; (right) A. Hamza chairing the session

Ready to start the campaign

Libyan boy scouts are great helpers in all EGA activities

School children cleaning wetland bank in Benghazi

Volunteers from Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi

Together for a better life

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