Azraq

Date of Submission: 11/05/2007
Criteria: (iv)(v)(x)
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
Ministry of Environment
State, Province or Region:
Zarqa Governorate
Ref.: 5156
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Description

Azraq is located in the eastern desert within Zarqa governorate. It has an area of 701;m2. Azraq Wetland Reserve was established in 1978. with an area of 12kmz. Azraq has a unique wetland located in the heart of the arid Jordanian desert. It contains several pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat. A wide variety of birds visit the reserve each year, either stopping for a short rest on their long migration between Africa and Europe; or they stay for the winter and some breed in the wetland.

The wetland, located in the heart of the desert, attracts np to half a million migrating birds at any one time. By 1993, however, the extraction of water was so great that no surface water remained and its ecological value was virtually destroyed. With international support, a rescue effort started in 1994 and a signicant portion of the wetland has been restored. Many of the birds for which the oasis was renowned are coming back and special boardwalks and bird hides have been constructed to enable visitors to see and enjoy them.

Azraq lies at the centre of the eastern part of the Africa - Eurasian flyway, which is an important passage for the migratory and resident birds. The reserve is currently utilized by around 180 species on a regular basis in addition to around 90 vagrants and about 20 breeding species, resulting in a total about 290 species. The only endemic fish species native to Azraq is Azraq Killifish Aphanius sirhani, which is the onIy endemic vertebrate in Jordan.

The main archaeological feature in Azraq WetIand Reserve is the remains of the Roman wall which goes back to 300 A.D. The area was aIso inhabited by the Omayyad Arabs, who also contributed to the history, and the desert castles around the reserve area still stand as an evidence of this contribution.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Ministry of Environment is working on designing the coordinates of the property as a protected area which will protected under Jordan's environmental law.

Comparison with other similar properties

There are very few oases in the Arabian Desert, the closest to Azraq is the oasis of Palmyra, which is located in the Syrian Badia around 600 km to the north of Azraq. The only major wetland that has comparable salt to extraction in Azraq is the wetland of Sabkhet El-Jabbul. This wetland is located about 2000km north of Azraq.