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View Diary: Dawn Chorus: mmmm.... Oysters! (65 comments)

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  •  There was actually a rumor (18+ / 0-)

    That spread widely in the Middle East about Israelis using raptors and vultures for surveillance. I saw an article in a Kurdish newspaper debunking this and telling people to leave the birds alone.

    Hey, tangentially related, but Iraq just created a National Park to protect the central marshes, the biggest wetland in the Middle East. This is incredibly good news. It's largely due to an Iraqi named Azzam Alwash who was from the marshes and fled Iraq due to political repression, moved to California, and fell in love with Yosemite. Years later, a successful engineer and a fan of John Muir, he returned to Iraq and spent the last eight years putting together a coalition to get the marshes protected. I visited those marshes right after the invasion in 2003 - the marsh Arabs had stolen explosives and blown up the dikes and earthworks that Saddam had built to drain the marshes, and there were miles of open water with the plants and fish recolonizing from tiny refugia. Now, the marshes are back, and both the marsh Arabs and the new environmentalists in Iraq are doing their best to keep it that way. There are challenges to be sure, but it is a beautiful thing that a key migratory stopover for Eurasia is back, alive, with a big central portion set aside for birds and wilderness.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 08:44:22 AM PDT

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    •  ivorybill (12+ / 0-)

      Excellent outcome.
      You restored my faith in humankind.

      I`m already against the next war.

      by Knucklehead on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 08:47:36 AM PDT

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      •  Thank Azzam al-Awad (13+ / 0-)

        and Anna Bachmann and the Italian government that funded Nature Iraq... They are now in the process of setting aside some heavily mined areas along the Iran-Iraq border as permanent nature reserves, arguing that their value as bio refugia outweigh the costs of demining. They are working with the Kurdish authorities on education campaigns to prevent people from shooting critically endangered leopards, which have somehow managed to survive.

        I saw that Ken Burns special on the National Parks, America's Best Idea. There is some truth to that... The idea of setting aside wilderness, the idea that we're incomplete without wilderness, resonates across cultures. There are some Iraqis who feel this way. The particular politics of the marshes make me hopeful - nobody in southern Iraq were as persecuted as the Marsh Arabs; they support the restoration of the marshes, and politicians across the spectrum (including some of the very religious ones) want to be seen to support them. So for reasons beyond the obvious good of creating a protected refuge, it's hard for politicians to oppose this. And the Kurds have their own political reasons for supporting protected areas in the high mountains.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 09:05:10 AM PDT

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