Loving Kurdistan to Death
I had the great fortune to travel around Kurdistan, Northern Iraq for most of August this year. I travelled to many of the beautiful spots of Sulimani, Erbil & Dohuk, the three northern most governorates of Iraq, populated and controlled by the Kurds. The mountains of the north are truely stunning once you get away from the ugly cities. But even the pristine natural areas of Kurdistan have been touched by poor and unsightly development. Below are some examples of the good, bad and the ugly of Kurdistans natural environments.
A river in Erbil Governorate
A spring fed stream in Dohuk Governorate
In addition, the rivers of Kurdistan are, for the most part, overrun by gravel mines; the mountains have been denuded in the past (though there are occasional efforts at reforestation); hunting is extensive and appears to have eradicated many species; local zoos show mostly ill, stir-crazy, mis-identified animals in inhuman conditions; there are plans to dam the last wild section of river in Iraq (the Great Zap), which will have a major impact on the local water regime as well as the Mesopotamian marshlands in the south; trash around populated areas is a pervasive problem; all sewage goes into the rivers untreated for the most part; new oil development promises to spew new poisons into the environment; and the general lack of care for the environment, despite the encouraging existance of a few local environmental groups, is reflected in the lack of resources provided to the new Kurdistan Ministry of Environment.