Some Hopeful News In Iraq

From the Middle East Online

BirdLife International, Nature Iraq jointly publish first fully illustrated comprehensive field guide of Iraq birds in Arabic.

LONDON - Iraq's first field guide for bird watchers shows how destroyed unique marsh are making a comeback, despite the violence now plaguing the country, the publishers said on Thursday.

Wildlife charity BirdLife International and a newly formed Iraqi organisation called Nature Iraq have jointly published their "Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq" in Arabic.

They described the volume, partly funded by the Canadian government and the World Bank, as the first fully illustrated comprehensive field guide to an Arabic speaking country.

It shows the rebirth of marsh habitats in the south of the country, which were 90 percent drained, but have been 40 percent reflooded since 2003.

"These are some of the most wildlife-rich sites in the Middle East, but often all we hear about is the conflict," Richard Porter, BirdLife International's Middle East adviser and co-author of the guide, said in a statement.

Iraq has 387 bird species, many of them native to the marshes in the south of the country where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow toward the sea, an area that has been described as the likely location of the biblical Garden of Eden.

"For Iraq -- a nation that has lost so much of its wildlife in the last 20 years, this book opens the door for the growing conservation movement in this country," said Dr Ali Douabul of Nature Iraq."