The Mesopotamian Marshes, located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in southern Iraq, were historically one of the world's most important wetland environments. The area of once over 20,000 square kilometres - thought by some to have been the original Garden of Eden - provided habitat for millions of birds and has been inhabited since the time of the Sumerians by thousands of people living on artificial islands of mud and reeds and depending on sustainable fishing and farming. Since the early 1990s, however, this important ecological and unique cultural jewel has been devastated by a series of thoughtless dam constructions and deliberate water diversions that has led to what many believe to be one the most severe "ecocides" in history. At the same time, Saddam's pogrom all but destroyed the indigenous marsh dweller inhabitants. Today, many groups from around the world have begun work to restore the ecological and cultural landscape of the marshlands. This book pulls together the most recent results of that work and outlines the diversity of perspectives underlying the various restoration efforts.
Both background theory and nuts-and-bolts practicalities of these reparation efforts are provided in fifteen chapters authored by the leading authorities studying and undertaking this work.
Robert L. France is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Landscape Ecology and the Science Director of the Center for Technology and Environment at the Harvard University Design School. He is the author of numerous journal articles and the author or editor of many books, including Handbook of Water: Sensitive Planning and Design, Dr. France has also organized and hosted many international conferences at Harvard University including, most recently, Mesopotamian Marshes & Modern Development.