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Iraqi Kurdistan Struggles With Environmental Policies

Facing drought, sandstorms and other factors contributing to the deterioration of its natural environment, the Iraqi Kurdistan Region is working to document and protect its ecosystem.
AKRA, Iraq:  Iraqi Kurds climb a mountain decorated with a huge Kurdish flag as they celebrate New Year or Newroz, 21 March 2006 in the northern town of Akra.  Iraq's predominantly Kurdish northern provinces celebrated New Year or Newroz with dancing and singing amid tight security as violence wracked the rest of the country. But traditional wishes for a happy new year took on additional urgency on the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq with the country teetering on the edge of civil war.

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region enjoys a natural environment that differs from the rest of Iraq, characterized by mountains, valleys, rivers and forests. As a result, Iraqis flock to the Kurdistan region during the summer to escape the heat and during the winter to enjoy the snow. Yet the environment is threatened by several factors, namely neglect, sandstorms and long years of drought.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has started to recognize the importance of protecting the environment. For this purpose, it set up a ministry charged with environmental protection in 2005. Due to a reduction in the number of ministries, the ministry was made into an independent agency charged with protecting and conserving the environment, in addition to a council that consists of representatives of 14 KRG ministries.

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