By Matthew Gayle.
While attending festival in southern Iraq, Iraqi experts urged the government to declare the Iraqi marshes in that region a national park. The festival was part of a series of activities that the Iraq Nature Organization is developing to lobby the government and international bodies to declare the marches a natural reserve.
"It is important that pressure be exerted on the federal government to issue legislation for making the march area a natural reserve," Director of the Iraq Nature Organization Jassem al-Assadi said. "The idea of a natural reserve is everywhere and on the lips of everyone with an interest in the marshes. It is time the government listened to us."
Former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, drained the marshes to flush out rebels fighting his rule, which turned the area into a desert. However, the marshes areas have been restored since Hussein's overthrow in 2003, and water, fish and wildlife now covering the area.