Dead Marsh Recovers in Iraq
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.