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Talk examines importance of Iraq marshes


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The draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes and efforts to restore them will be explored in a special presentation by Sacramento State’s One World Initiative and Hima Mesopotamia, an international nongovernmental organization, at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Redwood Room of the University Union.

Nadir Salman Abo-Tubikh

Nadir Salman Abo-Tubikh

The lecture, “Impact of Dams and Upstream Diversions on Hydrology, Water Quality and Biodiversity in the Southern Mesopotamian Marshes,” will be presented by Nadir Salman Abo-Tubikh, University of Basrah Marine Science Center, Iraq. It will include a question-and-answer session and refreshments.

The marshes are twice the size of the Florida Everglades. The area’s indigenous inhabitants, known as Marsh Arabs, have evolved a unique subsistence lifestyle rooted in their aquatic environment for more than 5,000 years. The marshes, a major haven of regional and global biodiversity, provide habitat for fish and some shrimp species, and sustain an economically important local and regional fishery.

During conflicts in the region in the 1980s and ’90s, the Hussein regime drained more than 90 percent of the marshes in an act of aggression against the Marsh Arabs who had taken refuge there.

In 2003, Iraqis rehydrated a large part of the marshes and the native Marsh Arabs returned. Now, upstream diversions and severe drought again threaten the marshes, turning them into salt-encrusted wastelands.

Salman has performed extensive research on water quality, hydrology, fish and fish ecology in the marshes, as well as the socioeconomic status of the Marsh Arabs. Salman is also conducting research on aquaculture and sustainable development, and is assisting local people to design locally made fish-rearing cages and enclosures.

The presentation is hosted by Environmental Studies in conjunction with Sacramento State’s inaugural One World Initiative, a program that involves the entire campus in the study of an issue, and which this year is focusing on the global impacts of water.

For more information, visit For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

– Craig Koscho