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War and dysfunctional politics threaten Iraq’s marshlands

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THE recovery of southern Iraq’s marshlands is arguably one of the great environmental triumphs of recent times. Reduced to dust and withered reeds when Saddam Hussein drained them to flush out rebels in the 1990s, the wetlands once again buzz with birds, dragonflies and the songs of buffalo-breeders, thanks to the devoted efforts of Iraqi conservationists. But the renewed symphony may be the marshes’ swan-song. A water crisis rooted in wasteful irrigation, climate change and dam-building is imperilling them again.

A weakened flow into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers means that salt water from the Persian Gulf can now seep upstream into the marshes. This, coupled with farming run-off that has boosted salinity, again threatens wetland wildlife, vegetation and the local Marsh Arabs who have depended on them for millennia. Jassim al-Asadi, a conservationist brought up in the marshes before Saddam drained them, fears that no more than half the 5,600 square kilometres slated…

Source: Newslatest