Dr. Sh.A. Nezami Baloochi, Iran
Dr. Sh.A. Nezami Baloochi, from the Department of the Environment of the Province of Gilan, Iran, is being recognized for his major and pivotal role in the establishment of an effective conservation and wise use scheme for the 15.000ha Anzali Wetland Ramsar Site, designated in 1975.
The Anzali Wetland has been threatened by a wide range of pressures including eutrophication, deforestation, erosion, unsustainable hunting and inappropriate tourism, road and urban development. The site was listed on the record of threatened Ramsar Sites (Montreux Record) in 1993 owing to changes in the water levels and increased nutrient-enrichment from activities in the catchment outside the Ramsar Site.
Dr. Nezami has been highly instrumental in the creation of a number of protected areas, education and public awareness-raising initiatives (including, particularly, the creation of the first Wetland Education Centre in Iran), the establishment of a National History Museum, directing a management plan, successfully opposing developments threatening the wetland and military use of wetland area, as well as fighting illegal fishing and smuggling. In doing so, Dr. Nezami has successfully brought in donor funds to support and increase local capacity for the delivery of the initiatives.
Dr. Nezami's achievements in safeguarding the Anzali wetland have been an exemplary success story of reversing the deterioration of wetlands and their services by improved management, increased public awareness and local communities involvement.