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Location Iraq, Al-Basrah,Maysan
Central coordinates 47o 41.09' East  31o 34.63' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 164,023 ha
Altitude 4 - 11m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Nature Iraq (Affiliate)

Summary 2014 updates. Hawizeh Marsh became the first Ramsar site in Iraq, designated when Iraq signed the Convention for Protecting Internationally Important Wetlandson 17/02/2008 (known as the Ramsar Convention (Ramsar, 2011). The total area of the designated Ramsar site is 137,700 ha. The estimated 1973 pre-drainage area of Hawizeh Marsh was 243,500 ha, and about 56% of the original area was included in the Ramsar site designation

Site description Situated to the east of the River Tigris, Haur Al Hawizeh (Hawaizah) and its associated marshes cover an area of approximately 2,200 km2 between Amara and Basrah (31°00'N--31°45'N, 47°25'E--47°50'E). A small portion of the haur extends over the border into Iranian territory, where it is known as the Hoor Al Azim. The wetland is fed by floodwaters from the River Tigris and from the Karkheh river in the east (in Iran); it is bordered in the north by the Musharra Canal and in the south by the Shatt Al Arab. The marsh is partly seasonal and partly permanent. The latter area has extensive Phragmites reedbeds alternating with open sheets of water. The Nahrsabla Marshes (31°30'N 47°35'E) are an area of predominantly seasonal marsh in the north-eastern portion of the haur, near the Iranian border.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus resident  1985  common  B2  Least Concern 
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  1960-1969  present  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris winter  1985  present  B2  Least Concern 
African Darter Anhinga rufa resident  1915  common  B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus breeding  1985  present  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis breeding  1985  abundant  A1, A2, A3, B2  Endangered 
Iraq Babbler Turdoides altirostris resident  1985  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1968-1979  500,000-999,999 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Hawizeh Marshes (Haur Al-Hawizeh) Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 137,700 is identical to site 137,700  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   major
Artificial - aquatic   minor
Artificial - terrestrial   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
unknown -
military -

Other biodiversity Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Lutra perspicillata (K; the subspecies L. p. maxwelli is endemic to the marshes and endangered), Gerbillus mesopotamiae (endemic).

Protection status  With the listing of Hawizeh as Iraq’s first Ramsar Site, a management plan was developed but remains largely unimplemented

Acknowledgements Information compiled by Dr D. A. Scott and D. J. Brooks, reviewed by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh and Dr Hanna Y. Siman.

References Carp (1980), Georg and Savage (1970b), North (1993), Pearce (1993), Prentice (1993), Savage (1968), Ticehurst et al. (1921-1922). Al-Sheikhly, O.F. and Nader, I.A. (2013). The status of the Iraqi smooth-coated otter Lutrogaleperspicillata, Hayman 1956 and Eurasian otter Lutralutra, Linnaeus 1758 in Iraq.IUCN Otter SG Bulletin 30(1): 18-30. Coad B. W. (2010). Freshwater Fishes of Iraq. PENSOFT Publishers, Sofia-Moscow. NO.93. Evans, M. I. (1994). Important Bird Areas in the Middle East.Birdlife Conservation Series No. 2. Nature Iraq (2008a) Management Plan for the Hawizeh Marsh Ramsar Site of Iraq. Second Draft. Volume 1: Background, Vision, Principles and Annexes. A Report Prepared for the Iraq National Marshes and Wetlands Committee. December 2008. Compiled and Edited by C.D.A. Rubec. Retrieved on 16 September 2012 from Nature Iraq (2008b) Management Plan for the Hawizeh Marsh Ramsar Site of Iraq. Second Draft. Volume 2: Management Issues and Recommendation. A Report Prepared for the Iraq National Marshes and Wetlands Committee. December 2008. Compiled and Edited by C.D.A. Rubec Retrieved on 16 September 2012 from Omer, S. A., Wronski, T., Alwash, A., Maha H. E., Mohammed, O. B., Lerp, H. (2012). Evidence for persistence and a major range extension of the Arabian Smooth-coated Otter, Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli (Mustellidae, Carnivora) in Iraq. Folia Zoologica. Ramsar (2011).National Report on the Implementation of the Ramsar convention on Wetlands.National Reports to be submitted to the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, Romania, June 2012. Retrieved on 16 September 2012 from

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hawizeh. Downloaded from on 01/10/2014

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