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Environmental Challenges in Trans-Boundary Waters, Case Study: Hamoon Hirmand Wetland (Iran and Afghanistan)

Alireza Najafi and Jabbar Vatanfada

During past decades surface and ground water were resources for supplying agricultural, municipal and industrial consumers. Rivers are the most important supplier of people water requirements, such as Hydro powers, water transportation and fresh water. Several kinds of animals and special aquatics spices live in wetlands and groups of migrated birds could spend their winter periods in wetlands; also wetlands have specific vegetations covers (i.e Reeds). Hamoons are transboundary wetlands between Iran and Afghanistan which get their water from Hirmand (helmand) River and form a unique freshwater wetland ecosystem of outstanding local, national and international importance. As such, it has been designated as wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention by the Iranian Government in 1975. The wetlands have a great ecological, economical and cultural value and offer a livelihood to a significant proportion of the human population in the Sistan basin. Over the last decade's drought seem to have occurred more frequently than before and the vegetation cover has dramatically decreased. The degradation of the ecosystem is of great concern to the authorities and the local people, who see their livelihood threatened. Between 2001 and 2005 the lakes have been completely dry most of the time. People lost their income from fisheries, reed harvest, grazing and bird harvesting and agriculture suffered from severe shortage of water. Reasons for the degradation may be increased occurrence of droughts, decreased discharge of the Hirmand River due to increased water use in Afghanistan, over-exploitation of natural resources by the growing local population and the introduction of exotic herbivorous fish which may have prevented re-growth of reeds after the droughts of the mid-1980. In this paper recent condition of Hamoon wetlands, implemented works and suggested solution for conservation and rehabilitation of Hamoons will be presented

 

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