In DepthEnvironment

Bringing an Iranian oasis back from the dead

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Science  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 854-855
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6378.854

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The Hamoun wetlands, which once encompassed as much as 5800 square kilometers along Iran's border with Afghanistan and supported settlements stretching back 5 millennia, are now a sea of sand. On the Iranian side, villages are emptying. Winds in what has become a dust bowl ravage crops and sweep up pesticide residues and other pollutants. And a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife has vanished. But now, after years of bickering about which country is to blame, Iran and Afghanistan are discussing solutions. A new restoration plan would require Afghanistan to help restore the flow of the Helmand, the main river feeding the former wetlands, and Iran to overhaul its water management practices. And last month, experts from the two nations met in Paris for a workshop on transboundary water issues.