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Broken connections of wetland cultural knowledge

August 4, 2016

As global agriculture intensifies, cultural knowledge of wetland utilization has eroded as natural resources become more stressed, and marginal farmers move away from the land. The excellent paper by Fawzi et al. (2016) documents a particularly poignant case of traditional knowledge loss among the Marsh Arab women of Iraq. Through interviews, the authors document the breakdown of skill transfer from the older to younger generation of women. The authors link the loss of their cultural knowledge with the loss of wetlands in the region. Women no longer can help provide for their families using wetland products, and along with that, their ancient knowledge of plant usage is lost. These ancient skills included medicinal uses, and reed harvesting for weaving and water buffalo fodder. As, the majority of the Mesopotamian Marshes have dried, this way of life is being forgotten (Fawzi et al. 2015). The global tragedy is that while the careful alliance of wetlands and people have sustained human cultures for millennia, degraded wetlands lose their ability to provide these services (Maltby 1980).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Broken connections of wetland cultural knowledge
DOI 10.1002/ehs2.1223
Authors Beth A. Middleton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
Series Number
Index ID 70175312
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center