Natural forest formations
Forest cover map
The natural forests of Iraq consist mainly of poor xerophyte quercus spp. and also two small isolated islands of Pinus halepensis var. brutia pine. Insignificant areas of riparian forests still exist in the country and these include short and crooked trees and shrubs. Most forest vegetation in watersheds do not provide proper protection against water erosion and water loss. Human exploitation of the natural forests as well as shifting agriculture, forest fires and uncontrolled grazing denuded large areas of the natural forest (Chapman, 1957).
The following four different forest regions can be distinguished in Iraq (Zohary, 1946):
1 - Desert zone: The greatest part of the desert zone of Iraq is a sub-desert. The annual precipitation ranges from 75 to 150 mm at altitudes of 250 to 400 m above sea level. It also includes the extreme southern corner of Iraq. The altitude of this zone ranges from sea level to 50 to 150 m on the lower plains but reaches a maximum elevation of about 950 m at Jabal Anaiza near the Jordanian and Saudi-Arabian frontiers.
The mean relative humidity throughout the year is less than 30 percent. Daily temperatures average 45o C during the hottest month. The number of plant species that can survive under such harsh climatic conditions is small.
2 - Steppe zone: The steppe zone in Iraq lies at 500 m altitude and covers the territory located between the Himreen range up to the foothills and lower part of the mountain zone. This zone is divided into two sub-zones, the dry steppe zone and the moist steppe zone.
3 - Mountain forest zone: The northern mountain zone occurs between the 500 m and 3 000 m contours and lies within the forest region. Also, the area above 800 m elevation of Jabal Sinjar is included in this region. The extent of mountain forests is estimated to be about 20 000 km2, which is about two-thirds of the mountainous region in northeastern Iraq. Until 1950, half of this area was productive forest.
4 - Riparian forest: This category of woodland lies both within and outside the forest zone. It may be classified into two types of riparian forests, mountain riparian forest and plain riparian forest.
The above map is an extract from the Global Forest Cover map produced as part of FRA 2000. Please refer to FRA Working Paper 19 for a background to the production of the map.
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Map source: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, base map: ESRI