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Dead Marsh Recovers in Iraq

March 19, 2013


It’s inspiring now and then to hear how a mistreated ecosystem can recover. The famous marshes of Iraq were destroyed under the previous regime, and now they are recovering. Let this not serve any propaganda for the war, lest we note all the marshes Americans have drained during the past decade. Draining tidal marshes was a problem that increased New Orleans’ vulnerability to hurricanes. But one spot recovering somewhere is something to celebrate.

How is it possible for a destroyed ecosystem to “recover”? What about all the extinct species?

First of all, we can be sure there are extinct species that did not recover in the marsh–species we never knew existed. But in any ecosystem, particularly those of wetlands that experience extremes of water availability, many species have genetic mechanisms to survive. They may go dormant in the mud, even surviving dessication. And they may return from connections to other water systems. Diverse systems of animals, plants, and people enrich life for us all.

  1. March 19, 2013 6:34 pm

    Joan–it’s become a common meme the last few years–the Korean DMZ, the old Iron Curtain border-strips–even that firing range in Puerto Rico (or someplace). If we could create more of these localized schisms, especially in Africa, and SA’s Amazon region, we might be able to dis-humanize whole tracts of endangered ecosystems, allowing them to flourish between the skirmish lines.

  2. March 19, 2013 7:36 pm

    Actually, in the USA many army bases have become valuable wilderness areas because they are off limits for people. I’ll see if I can do a future post on that.

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