The history of conservation by indigenous peoples and local/traditional communities goes back thousands of years. It frequently features strong social organisation, identity, collective production, and adaptation of governance and management systems to complex ecological conditions.
The Anzali Wetland (measuring approximately 193 km2) is a Ramsar Site on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea in Iran, and is internationally known as a habitat for migratory birds. The wetland has been degraded, and is in need of immediate restoration. This is important to all relevant right-holders and stakeholders.
One of the elements that plays a vital role in the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of the Anzali Wetland is the system of customary management practiced among the communities surrounding the wetland, known as “Abbandan-dari”. An “abbandan” is a type of shallow man-made reservoir found in the southern Caspian lowlands and used both for aquaculture and to supply water for rice farming. A specific form of abbandan occurs within the Anzali wetland, where they range in size from 10 to 100 hectares and play a key role in supporting biodiversity and the restoration of the ecosystem. The customary abbandan-dari system is practised by a group of local people referred to as “abbandan-dar”.