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Wadi Gaza Coastal Wetlands

Date of Submission: 02/04/2012
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Gaza Strip
Coordinates: N31 26 33 - 31 27 32 E34 22 37 - 34 24 35
Ref.: 5722
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Description

The Wadi is distinct for its twists and turns, notably it makes eight curves when it crosses the Gaza Strip. The Wadi banks also support a number of terraces.  Its  width  varies from place to place, and gets wider  near its mouth where it reaches about 100 m.  Six wadis end into the main Wadi, the most important of which are Abu Qatroun Wadi and Ghalbeh Wadi.  Abu Qatroun Wadi cuts through the area north and Ghalbeh Wadi cuts through the area south of Wadi Gaza.

The geographical position of Palestine and the location of the Gaza Strip at the corner of the land bridge connecting the continents of Africa and Eurasia, make it a bottleneck for migratory birds. The passage of many migratory birds between the Orient and the Nile valley also takes place through the Gaza Strip. Thousands of ducks, herons, storks, cranes, flamingos, waders, raptors, quails, passerines and other birds have been reported to pass through the Gaza Strip. The most common endemic bird is the Palestinian sunbird (Nectarinia osea) found throughout the year at the Gaza Strip.

Studies show that there is an urgent need to protect the Wadi Gaza and it’s surrounding vegetation communities as these habitats contain the highest value for the flora and fauna. The threats to these habitats are quite severe, Wadi Gaza faces many environmental problems that affect the public health and is used as a point to collect sewage from the middle area refugee camps and as a solid waste-dumping site.

Geographic location:

Wadi Gaza springs from the Negev hills and the southern heights of Hebron. The length of the Wadi is about 105 km from its source, and extends from the Truce line in East Gaza to the coast where it discharges into the sea.  It is located centrally along the Gaza Strip coast, and is bordered in the north-west by the sea, the south-east by the Bureij Camp, the south-west by the Nuseirat Camp, and the north by Al-Zahra’ City.  The maximum elevation of the Wadi is 30 meters above sea level, dropping to sea level where it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. Its circuitous route through the Gaza Strip reaches 7 km. The tributaries feeding Wadi Gaza have their sources in the central mountain areas, the low heights north of the Negev, and the west and southwest parts of the Hebron Mountains.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Wadi Gaza is considered as one of the most important coastal wetlands located on the Eastern Mediterranean Basin, very rich in biological diversity (both flora and fauna). The wadi is also a station point for the migratory routes from north to south and from south to north. In addition, being the biggest in Gaza and having a special outstanding landscape, and being one of the biggest in Palestine, it has the potential for being a recreational area attracting people from different areas.

Criteria met:

criterion (x): Wadi Gaza is considered as a unique area characterized by a high degree of biological diversity, including globally threatened, endemic, and rare species.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

In recognition of its importance as a natural area and as the only wetland in Palestine, Wadi Gaza was declared a nature reserve in June 2000. The Ministry of Environmental Affairs (MEnA) requested that municipalities should revise their land use plans so that they ensure that the Wadi bed be respected as a protected area. 

Comparison with other similar properties

There is an example with little difference, which is El Zaranik protected area in Egypt known as a station point for the migratory birds. However, Wadi Gaza is characterized by its unique water system where fresh and saline water can be found as well as both terrestrial and water birds (fresh and flamingo birds).