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Eden Restored: The Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq


Eden Restored: The Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq

Hazel Stone

Esme Allen, winner Forestry Commission Exhibition Award 2015

Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015

18 July - 7 September 2015

Photojournalist Esme Allen travelled to Iraq in 2012 with Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to support and document the work of the organisation Nature Iraq in the Mesopotamian Marshes.

The photos are a beautiful and fascinating account of the lives of indigenous ‘Marsh Arabs’, whose lives in the marshes of Iraq were devastated by large scale draining of their homeland by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. After the fall of the regime the arid marshes were re-flooded when people broke through the embankments holding back the water. The return of the plants, animals and community to this unique landscape speaks of the resilience of people and environment to respond and be restored after ecological destruction and crisis.

This year the Forestry Commission England Exhibition Award will be shown in tandem with the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015, giving one photographer the chance to display a portfolio of work focussing on one environmental story in depth, outdoors in the grounds of Grizedale Forest.


This exhibition would not be possible without Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants and Nature Iraq.