BioRisk 3: 55-68, doi: 10.3897/biorisk.3.19
Habitat mapping project of the proposed Iraqi Marshlands National Park area
Nabeel Abdulhasan
Abstract New ecological surveys in support of the creation of the proposed Iraqi Marshlands National Park were undertaken by Nature Iraq in June 2008 at the Central Marshes in southern Iraq. Surveys that occurred in two focal areas - Al Chibaish Marsh (10 sites) and Abu Zirig Marsh (two sites) - were supported by a preliminary land cover survey in November 2007. Satellite images from 2007 for the Central Marshes were acquired to support creation of maps. The “Iraqi Marshlands Habitat Classiffcation System” based on vegetation types has been developed to inventory habitats in these marshlands and to develop a methodology for application elsewhere in Iraq. Six habitat classes (inland running water, river or canal; inland standing water; marsh vegetation; desert; woodlands; and herbaceous vegetation) are included in this classification system, each of which is divided into several subclasses. The dominant habitat subclasses in the Central Marshes study area are: (1) rooted submerged vegetation, (2) helophytic vegetation (reed bed or reed mace bed), (3) free-floating vegetation, (4) terrestrial vegetation-shrub, (5) unvegetated river or canal, (6) unvegetated desert, and (7) flooded communities. This paper constitutes a review of the progress in developing this habitat classification system that remains under development.