Hawizeh Marsh placed on the Montreux Record

15/06/2010

The Hawizeh Marsh Ramsar site (designated 17/10/07; Basra, Amara; 137,700 ha; 31°25'N 047°38'E), has been placed on the Montreux Record by the government of the Republic of Iraq on 28 April, 2010. This is as a result of lowering water level in the marsh due to excessive drainage in the 1990s which subsequent restoration efforts have not been able to fully reverse, the construction of upstream dams that have decreased the flow from the rivers that enter the marsh, a lack of agreement with riparian states over the sharing of water that enters the marsh, all of which has been exacerbated by a decrease in rainfall in the catchment due to climate change.

The Hawizeh Marsh forms part of the Mesopotamian Marshes which used to be the largest freshwater marsh in Western Eurasia. The site is internationally important for biodiversity, supporting numerous threatened species, e.g. the endangered Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis and the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala; acting as a staging and wintering area for at least 79 species of waterfowl and nine species of raptors; and as a critical nursery area for freshwater fish. The Marsh is also of great cultural significance, providing a home for up to some 400,000 Ma'dan or Marsh Arabs for at least five thousand years, who are dependent on the resources of the marsh for survival.

The government of the Republic of Iraq has provided a questionnaire that gives background information for the listing of the Hawizeh Marsh on the Montreux Record, and this is attached here.

The Montreux Record is the principal tool of the Convention for highlighting those sites where an adverse change in ecological character has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur, in order to draw attention at a site in need of priority conservation attention, action or support. The site will now be maintained as part of the Ramsar Database and shall be subject to continuous review.

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