We were very successful in our two symposia at the Society of Ecological Restoration in Merida, Mexico. There were over 1,000 people attending the conference from 70 countries. Dr. Nadia Fawzi from the Basrah Marine Science Center, Tova Fleming and Monica Dean participated in the symposia. We had several cancellations due to lack of funds or ability to travel to Mexico, so we gave their presentations for the missing scientists. The first symposium was taking a watershed approach to the Tigris Euphrates watershed.
Water and Peace: A holistic perspective on the ecological and cultural restoration of the Tigris Euphrates watershed.
Abstract The Tigris and Euphrates River Basin is vulnerable due to water scarcity (exacerbated by climate change), inequitable sharing of water rights, and high risk of desertification. Participants representing Turkey, Iraq and Kuwait will discuss the scarcity of water, upstream dam construction, and long term implications for sustaining ecosystem health and cultural integrity. The future trajectory appears catastrophic throughout the watershed: devastating ecological and social impacts are occurring which jeopardize regional stability. With at least 26 large dams under construction or planned in the Tigris River in Turkey, there is cause for alarm and immediate action is needed to assess cumulative impacts and to mitigate the loss of species and habitats, as well as basin-wide socioeconomic impacts. With good water years since 2003, approximately 58% of marshes had been rejuvenated, and people had returned to their lives in the marshes. Unfortunately, past water years and upstream water diversions have resulted in severe drought, and now the Mesopotamian Marshes are drying up. Water levels continue to drop; marshes recede; salinities increase; and the fish, reeds and water buffalo that embody the marshes are dying. With low flows, salinity in the Shat al Arab has increased from salinity levels of 1 ppt to 9-13 ppt. Low flows and impaired water quality is adversely affecting fish production and biodiversity in the Shat al Arab and northern Gulf. Loss of fisheries alone will have adverse impacts on local populations. An international system of basin planning and equitable allocation of water rights is urgently needed.
Michelle Stevens and Dicle Tubaq Kilic, Doga Dernegi, Turkey. “Impacts on nature and culture of dam construction in Turkey on the Tigris River Watershed”.
Nadia Fawzi and H.T. al-Saad, “Examining the Condition of Iraq’s waterways and their impact on the water quality of the north western Arabian Gulf”
Faiza al Yamani, Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR), presented by Nadia Fawzi, “Impacts of reduced flows and impaired water quality in the Shat al Arab to fish productivity, biodiversity and socio-economics in the Northern Gulf”
Nature Iraq. Movie on the Marsh Arabs and Azzam Alwash.