Despite ongoing violence in the region, NewScientist is reporting that the “‘Garden of Eden’ has been saved.” The country’s Council of Ministers recently approved its first national park, restoring Mesopotamian marshes in Iraqi’s southern region.
Biblical scholars say this massive oasis in the desert may have been the
Garden of Eden. For more than five millennia, tribal groups of Marsh
Arabs lived sustainably in this water world, using the dominant plant, a
giant grass called Phragmites australis, for housing, animal feed,
fuel, and commerce. Under their ministrations, the marshes teemed with
life, serving as one of the world’s most important stopovers for
migratory birds and as breeding habitat for Persian Gulf fisheries.
After the Gulf war in 1991, Iraq's president, Saddam Hussain, used
dykes, sluices and diversions to cut off the country's two major rivers,
the Tigris and Euphrates. This drained 93 per cent of the marshes, largely obliterating the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East.
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