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09 Feb 2014

Nature Iraq - Press Release: The Rawanduz River Expedition

Nature Iraq’s Waterkeepers Iraq Program along with partner organizations (Nature Iraq Foundation, American Canoe Association and Majestic Heights Outdoor Adventures, a Kurdistan Iraq-based eco-tourism company) are working for conservation in Iraq.  They have just announced the Rawanduz River Expedition, a new initiative to protect rivers in Iraq, and the kick-off of a 60-day crowdfunding campaign to make this expedition possible. 
Environmental protection in Iraq is complicated by negative perceptions of the country. In the global imagination, Iraq is a desert wasteland, devoid of natural beauty and lacking breathtaking scenery. In Iraqis’ understanding, their country's environment is hopelessly neglected, abused by forces beyond their control. We want to tell a new story to change these attitudes, and show Iraq's last wild rivers in their true beauty and splendor.  The expedition will do this in two ways:
  • We will lead a kayak expedition down the Rawanduz River of Kurdistan, northern Iraq in the spring of 2014 with a team of professional kayakers, river advocates, and a videographer who will conduct outreach to local communities raising awareness about river threats.
  • The story of the expedition will be retold in a short film, which will chronicle this record-setting first kayak expedition down the full length of the Rawanduz River in northern Iraq. The film will be used to raise awareness locally and internationally, showcasing the tourism potential of these rivers and demonstrating how they can be protected and used sustainably. 
The Rawanduz River is a tributary to the Greater Zab River, a major tributary to the Tigris and the last wild river in Iraq. Rivers and the environment in Iraq are under grave threats from uncontrolled development. This is particularly true in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. After decades of conflict this relatively stable part of the country is rushing to develop and in so doing is putting its last wild and scenic rivers on the chopping block without realizing what a tremendous resource that they may lose. 
The expedition is raising $10,000 through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo to support the costs of filmmaking. The full expedition cost will be approximately $70,000 for equipment, transportation and logistics and much of this funding will come from within Iraq and/or will be donated by the expedition participants themselves.
Contributors to the Indiegogo Expedition fund-raising campaign will of course receive our copious thanks. Benefits at different levels of support include: t-shirts, bumper stickers, autographed photos, copies of the final film and your name included in the credits. Other perks include birding, hiking, and river trips in Iraq, ACA Membership, producer credits on the film, and even your own kayak! Additionally, if you are donating to the campaign in the United States, your pledge will also be tax deductible.
You can read the full story on Indiegogo or the Program website but the successful completion of the Tigris River Flotilla in the fall of 2013
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