Several other countries’ representatives, including France, have also pledged to support the Iraqi bid at the meeting in Istanbul.
“The decision to list the Iraqi marshes is also a way of putting legal pressure on upstream countries [like Turkey and Iran] to provide the marshes with enough water – separate of water consumption in general,” explains local archaeologist, Abdulamir al-Hamdani. “The benefit of this is that people would be encouraged to return to their farming and fishing and it would also encourage the return of local wildlife.”
But even if the Iraqis’ efforts are successful and the marshes are listed as a World Heritage Site, it may not make that much difference to their upkeep, notes Jassim al-Asadi, a senior member of local conservation agency, Nature Iraq, who was actually also born in the southern marshes area.
“There are four sites that are now listed as nature reserves under the Ramsar Convention, that was signed in Tehran [also known as the Wetlands Convention],” he points out. “But in reality there have been no great changes in these areas. Government efforts in preserving these wetlands and developing them have faltered.”
“Appropriate management plans are needed and these require coordination and cooperation between all of the involved parties,” al-Asadi argues.