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Eden Again

Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands
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A Project of
Nature Iraq

In partnership with The Iraq Foundation

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[Photo]: Marshlands in their original condition.


 

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About the Eden Again Project

Projects | Staff | ITAP | Media Coverage | About Us
Mission & Goals

 

Mission Statement

The mission of the Eden Again Project is to promote the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

Eden Again Goals

  1. Assemble a group of international experts ready to assist with the technical aspects of marshland restoration.
  2. Develop planning documents to assist with marshland restoration
  3. Conduct an effective outreach program to educate the global public about the value of the marshlands.
  4. Work with international organizations and regional governments to achieve a sustainable restoration.
  5. Work with local grassroots organizations to foster local decision-making and stewardship of the marshlands.
  6. Develop partnerships with local scientific communities for reciprocal capacity building.

The following sections describe the progress on our goals as of June 2004.

Goal One: Assemble a Group of International Experts
In June 2002, the Project Team began to assemble an international panel of scientists to provide advice on the technical aspects of marshland restoration and inform the development of technical planning documents that could lay the foundation for such restoration (the International Technical Advisory Panel, or ITAP.) The ITAP is an inter-disciplinary and international group of scientists with expertise in hydrology, engineering, ecology, soil sciences, geology, and biological sciences.

The first meeting of the ITAP, a Restoration Planning Workshop, was held on February 16th and 17th, 2003.. The goal of that meeting was to evaluate three questions: should the marshlands be restored; could the marshlands be restored; and if so, what should be the first steps towards restoration? Subsequently, members of the ITAP have individually provided their invaluable advice on numerous occasions, and formal and informal discussions between ITAP members have taken place at various scientific meetings. Several members of the ITAP have visited the marshlands since June 2003 and are actively conducting scientific research and assisting in their restoration. The Eden Again team is eternally grateful for the assistance and support of the ITAP. The Mesopotamian Marshlands are truly blessed with having attracted such an experienced group.

Goal Two: Develop Planning Documents
The result of the Restoration Planning Workshop was to prepare an action plan for initiating restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. The ITAP came to a consensus that restoration is both technically feasible and worthwhile; that multiple ecological, economic and socio-cultural benefits will occur from restoration of the marshlands on a local, regional and global scale; and that restoration should proceed in a stepwise and incremental fashion, drawing upon available information and analogous sites to plan demonstration marsh restoration projects. They recommended that these demonstration projects should be implemented as soon as possible in order to provide early tangible results and generate experimental data to facilitate an adaptive management approach to restoration. The ITAP also provided a broad outline of the scientific data and anlyses that would be necessary to provide a sound scientific basis for restoration planning

This initial action plan is currently being implemented. The areas that have been reflooded by the marsh dwellers since mid-2003 are being treated as demonstration projects and their progress monitored to better guide future restoration projects. The Iraq Foundation, working with Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources and the Center for Restoration of the Iraqi Marshes, has developed a program for gathering the scientific data and analyses (initially outlined by the ITAP) that will be necessary for developing a Sustainable Restoration Plan. It is anticipated that the Sustainable Restoration Plan will be developed over a three-year period, and will include a participatory decision-making process involving appropriate stakeholders inside and outside of Iraq.

Goal Three: Develop a Global Outreach Program
Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands has struck a sensitive nerve in generous people around the world. Our project has been covered extensively in U.S. and international news articles, magazines, radio, and television. This educational website represents a part of our effort to reach out to the global audience about the Mesopotamian Marshlands and efforts to restore them. If you know of any information that we should include in this website (especially marshland photographs or links to other relevant web sites or information about the marshes) please let us know.. Eden Again staff have also presented the project to numerous groups across the world. Our global outreach has reached millions of people and generated considerable support.

Goal Four: Work with International Organizations and Regional Governments
Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands must involve a multilateral and international approach. We are committed to working closely with all organizations interested in achieving restoration. At a national level, the Iraq Foundation has signed Memoranda of Understanding with both the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Public Works to work together to achieve a sustainable restoration of the marshlands. We are on the Steering Committee of the Center for Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. We have also presented the project goals and results to several members of Iraq's Governing Council and have gained their support for restoration. Internationally, we are working with donor countries to garner the necessary financial resources. The United States, Italy, and Canada have all committed multimillion dollar budgets towards restoration planning. The Iraq Foundation has also coordinated its work with international conservation groups, including the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), BirdLife International, the Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO), Ramsar Bureau, and the World Wildlife Fund. Much of this coordination has taken place through a series of roundtable meetings organized by UNEP, and we are grateful for their leadership in this situation.

Goal Five: Work with Local Grassroots Organizations
The future of the Mesopotamian Marshlands will ultimately be defined by the concerns and needs of the people of Iraq. In order to properly represent that perspective, an outreach process is being undertaken to listen to local people and determine what they want and need. The Iraq Foundation is now located in Iraq, has hired Iraqi citizens, and is acting in a service capacity to build trust and address local needs and concerns. As we conduct field work, we coordinate the work with local tribal and municipal leaders and hire local marsh dwellers as guides and technicians. We have developed good contacts and relationships with many tribal groups and are beginning to develop our database of stakeholders.

Appropriate stakeholders may include marsh dwellers and other local inhabitants, government ministries, local scientists and resource specialists, local community organizations and grassroots environmental groups, international conservation groups, and local land use planners. An appropriate method for obtaining input from these stakeholders should be developed. Information derived from this public outreach process should then be used to base restoration planning, implementation, monitoring, and adaptive management.

Goal Six: Reciprocal Capacity-Building
The Iraqi scientific community has been isolated from environmental science for decades; their capacity for environmental restoration science must be built through close interaction with international scientists experienced in environmental restoration. At the same time, the marshlands have been studied by only Iraqi scientists for decades and therefore the local scientists have the most knowledge of this complex ecosystem; therefore, scientists from outside Iraq must work closely with Iraqi scientists. There is a tremendous store of knowledge within Iraq. We are learning much more about the marshland environment from the Iraqi scientific community and from the marsh dwellers themselves. Concurrently, we are working to attract expertise from outside Iraq, to visit the marshlands and work with the Iraqi scientists and the project team to achieve a sustainable restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

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About Us | Marshland Info Links | Get Involved | Contact Us

Dr. Suzie Alwash
Senior Project Advisor
e-mail: suzie@alwash.net

©Copyright 2003 Eden Again Project, All Rights Reserved

 
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