(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
There is a long way to go between the good news from Iraq that the US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, called for a while back. The UN's environmental program is probably the last one one would have expected to get any of these from. We know that environmentalists do not have a high star among the neoconservative authorities in Washington, and the UN made itself "irrelevant," according to US President George W. Bush, as they did not support the US invasion of Iraq. But this is where the good news from the invasion comes in.
The Iraqi swamp area in the south has been severely affected since the 1970s, when containment and construction of canals began to affect the areas. Following the first Gulf War following Saddam Hussein's attack and occupation of Kuwait, rebels in southern Iraq were called upon to stand up to the American despot
President. Saddam broke down the rebellion quickly, but in retrospect, like revenge,
he began an extensive drainage, damming and diversion program that almost succeeded in draining and destroying the entire swamp area. What was a unique wetland ecosystem was about to turn into a desert, and of a population of 450.000, only 40.000 remained. This area, where the rivers Euphrates and Tigris meet, is regarded by many as the original "Garden of Eden" as described in the Bible, and is often called the cradle of civilization.
The United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, raised an alarm in 2002 that these swamps, and the culture of the area, were about to disappear. The swamp areas had shrunk to just 760 square miles. Through extensive diversion and flooding, UNEP managed to restore swamp areas to 40 percent of its original size before 1970. In its latest report, from Japan's Japan-supported IMOS (Iraqi Marshlands Observation System) project, UNEP states that satellite imagery shows
a phenomenal recovery rate, with growth to nearly 3.500 square miles.
However, UNEP and environmental experts warn that the wetland will need follow-up and close supervision for "several years" to recover, but researchers are at least very sure that they are on the right track. Even though water and vegetation seem to return, you need field analyzes of water quality and soil over time to be able to say something if you have succeeded.
"The near total destruction of the Iraqi wetland under Saddam Hussein's regime was a major ecological and human catastrophe, taking away from the 'swamp Arabs' a centuries-old culture and lifestyle such as fish and other food, as well as the most important of all natural resources. namely drinking water, ”says UNEP Director Klaus Toepfer. "The rapid recovery and revitalization of the swamps is a positive signal, not only for the environment and the local communities living there, but as a contribution to further peace and security for the Iraqi people and the region as a whole."
In addition to saving and reviving the swamp areas, the IMOS project has acquired a lot of useful knowledge that can be used in other swamp areas that are in danger. In addition, the Internet has been actively used, and you can always visit IMOS's websites (http://gridca.grid.unep.ch/xoops/html/) to get the latest
news from the project.
Not bad for an irrelevant organization!