Developing capacity for in situ conservation in Iraq

Iraq is facing major threats to its biodiversity following years of unstable government, breakdown in traditional land management and more recently rapid development. Almost 30 years of scientific isolation has resulted in limited in-country capacity to deal with these threats.

At present the only organisation in Iraq actively engaged in conservation work is Nature Iraq, who have adopted the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) approach to identifying biodiversity-rich regions. Since 2005 BirdLife International has been supporting this work, conducting surveys and running training courses in collaboration with Nature Iraq. More recently, CMEP (part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) has also been working with Nature Iraq to develop botanical training in Iraq. These activities have involved staff and students alongside personnel from major Iraqi organisations with an interest in the environment including the major Universities and Ministries in both Iraq and the Kurdish Autonomous Region (KAR).

The birds of the region are relatively well known and progress in identifying KBAs based on bird data has been good. However, plants are relatively poorly known and there is a lack of appropriate identification tools. Flora of Iraq and Flora Iranica, the two floras covering the region, are almost complete; but, it has been found on recent training courses, they are linguistically and technically almost totally inaccessible to Iraqi professionals and students. Conservation work in Iraq cannot wait for the completion of these Floras or their conversion into more user-friendly formats.

To address the lack of plant data available to inform conservation planning in Iraq and to build capacity for surveying and managing biodiversity-rich areas, the project partners have together identified three overlapping and complementary areas of work:

  1. Collection of botanical data to build capacity for conservation.
  2. Capacity building in Protected Area Management.
  3. Training in foundation skills in botany, ornithology and conservation.


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Related Project Services:

Capacity Development, Conservation