About Wadi Gaza

Wadi Gaza is the only wetland ecosystem in the State of Palestine. Thereby, it is one of the most important areas for birds. As its nature is heavily under stress, the wadi requires intensive rehabilitation to secure its resources and its biodiversity. 

Wadi Gaza was pronounced as a protected area in 1999. It is the only nature reserve in the Gaza strip, centrally located within this densely populated area. The wadi itself stretches over a distance of 90 km starting from the western foothills of the Hebron mountains until it drains further west into the Mediterranean Sea.

The highest length of the nature reserve is just 9 km, leading from the truce line in the eastern part of Gaza up to the coast, where the wadi meanders through lush green areas. Wadi Gaza contains traces of ancient and prehistoric civilizations, which settled prehistorically at the wadi banks. Geologically, the wadi features bed rocks that outcrop out of the predominantly sandy soil.

The width of the wadi varies significantl. The widest part located close to the mouth of Wadi Gaza forms coastal wetlands and Estuary Lakes, which are the most important habitats for migratory and resident water birds .The wetland is bordered by tall emergent plants like common reed and giant reed. Nile tamarisk covers considerable areas around the wadi. It is considered to be the main type of vegetation in the protected area. The wetland area of Wadi Gaza contains permanent fresh water, which serves as optimal habitat for several fauna and flora such as water birds, frogs, and fresh water turtles. Allover, the Wadi is an important ecosystem in the Gaza strip. Next to the eastern wetlands serving as the main stop over for aquatic and migratory birds, other habitats and terrestrial ecosystems cover the area and form meanders, sand dunes, and terrestrial fauns.

The Wadi is an important source for the biodiversity in the Gaza strip. So far, only very few researches have been conducted.  Observations and documentations of the wadi’s flora and fauna include and document these features common birds, such as the little egret, ringed plover, common snipe, cattle egret, black-winged stilt, sanderling, gulls, coot, and the spur-winged plover. As for the botanical wealth, the wadi is home to Nile tamarisk, big-sage annual nettle, Withania somnifera, Nicotiana glauca, Datura stramonium, Verbascum sinuatum, Rumex pictus, and Papaver humile.

Today’s fauna is highly endangered, mostly by hunting and other man-made causes related to urbanization. Agamas, frogs, and lizards can be still wildly seen. Larger animals have disappeared. The Wadi has several environmental problems. Above all, the dumping of untreated wastewater into the wetlands has considerably affected the biodiversity and played vital role in the deterioration of the ecosystems and decrease of fauna and flora in the protected area.

Wadi Gaza´s local community is mostly employed or self-employed in agriculture, which surrounds the wadi. Use of chemicals and pesticides have led to the disappearance of several flora species. But also mammals, which used to be seen in the Wadi, have become extremely rare. Only the portions close to the truce line has larger areas of undamaged nature, as the conflict and military activity reduce regular presence of visitors and agricultural activity.