The Annotated Ramsar List: Iraq


The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Iraq on 17 February 2008. Iraq presently has 1 site designated as a Wetland of International Importance, with a surface area of 137,700 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Hawizeh Marsh (Haur Al-Hawizeh). 17/10/07; Basra, Amara; 137,700 ha; 31°25'29”N 47°38'44”E. A transboundary wetland, part of the Mesopotamian marshlands complex centered at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the marshes are ca.75-80% located in Iraq with the remaining area extending into the Islamic Republic of Iran. The only significant area to have survived drainage in the 1990s and the most intact part of the original Mesopotamian system, the site is a biodiversity reservoir of priority importance for conservation, home to threatened species such as the endangered Basrah Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis, the endangered Euphrates Softshell Turtle Rafetus euphraticus and the  vulnerable Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. The site is also important for avifauna, with over 40 summer breeding species and over 90 wintering species, and is a recovery and feeding area for passage migrants on their way between Western Siberia/Central Asia and eastern and southern Africa. The effects of extensive drainage in the 1990s and warfare destruction, as well as dam-building activities upstream in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, are seen as the chief potential threats to the site. Following the re-flooding efforts from 2003 to 2008, the water levels and the related marsh ecosystems and wildlife had improved. However, two years of drought (2008 and 2009) and the completion of a dike along the Iran-Iraq border have halted this improvement. Currently the area of the marshes is only 50% of their extent in 2008, and the site was placed on the Montreux Record in April 2010. New oil developments planned for the near future in surrounding areas also threaten to affect the natural environment and hamper the restoration of the marshes. Ramsar site no. 1718. Most recent RIS information: 2012

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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