Tag Archives: Iraq marshes

Green Prophet: The Arabs Who Restored A Global Ecosystem

Travelling through the Mesopotamian Marshlands of Iraq on a boat with his father, Azzam Alwash felt he had glimpsed a garden of Eden- a land of abundance, peace and natural beauty. “In my childs’ mind eyes, the reeds were like forests with ‘trees’ extending to the sky and pathways made of small canals in which our boat floated. Every now and then we came to an open space through which air blew, cooling us down,” he recalls. “The sounds of frogs were all around us and the water was so clean you could see the fish scramming away from our boat. Birds would fill the sky when we disturbed them.”

Whilst Alwash’s memories of the time he spent as a young boy with his father in the marshes remained untouched, the marshes faced a rather brutal fate. In reprisal to the Marsh Arabs support of an uprising against the Saddam regime, in the 1980s the marshlands were drained of their water and life withered away. Alwash was lucky enough to escape the turmoil of Iraq under Saddam to America where he trained as a hydraulic engineer, when he returned 25 years later he vowed to help restore that Garden of Eden. In 2004, he setup Nature Iraq, the country’s first and only environmental organisation with the aim of restoring the Marshlands- a task many believed to be impossible. Continue reading