Damgah

A Traditional Caspian Agroecosystem for Trapping Migratory Waterfowl Acting as a Potential Avian Sanctuary

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 University of California, Los Angeles ellenvuosalo@gmail.com
  • 2 Tarbiat Modares University ghasempm@modares.ac.ir
  • 3 University of Allameh Mohaddes Nouri y.yaghobzadeh@gmail.com
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On the south coast of the Caspian Sea, certain agroecosystems called Damgahs serve as winter habitats for migratory birds, where people have devised artificial wetland systems in the fallow winter rice fields as an additional livelihood strategy using natural resources around them. The damgahs attract thousands of waterbirds, making their protective role similar to that of natural core zones in a biosphere reserve. With a two-hundred-year-old history, damgahs have been ecologically sustainable, as each enjoys a high degree of security, like a small island inside a large ecosystem. Community relations and economic realities are key elements in preserving this vital agroecosystem, forming part of the history of people relating to nature in mutually beneficial ways.