The Wetland Book pp 1685-1695 | Cite as

Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq

  • Curtis J. Richardson
Reference work entry


The Mesopotamian marshes of Iraq were once the largest wetland in the Middle East and home to an ancient civilization of Marsh Dwellers know as the Madan. By 2000, after massive drainage by the Iraqi government only 7% remained. This environmental genocide resulted in the near extinction of numerous endemic species of birds and mammals as well as the livelihood of the Marsh Dwellers. Today efforts are underway to restore the hydrology of the marshes, but upstream retention of water by Turkey, Iran and Syria through a series of dams along with internal water reallocations for agriculture and urban use seriously reduce the water available for restoration. Fortunately, Iraq working with international agencies has created marsh restoration plans, protected Ramsar Sites, a National Park, and just recently a World Heritage Site in the marshes, conservation efforts that promise a better future for the marshes and the Madan.


Hydrology Transboundary Marsh Iraq Madan 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke University Wetland CenterDurhamUSA

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