Himreen Lake

Year of compilation: 2014

Site description
Himreen Lake is an important lake in Iraq, located near the Himreen hills and known for its diverse bird life. The Himreen Dam (built in the late 1970s) formed the lake on the Diyala River that flows from the Iranian mountains and Iraqi Kurdistan. The lake is roughly rectangular in shape, with the dam on the southwestern edge

Key biodiversity
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 48 bird species were seen. The following Vulnerable species were observed at the site in winter, though at levels that did not meet IBA criteria: Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. The site also held one breeding Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species and the endemic race of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis. Other Important Fauna: Iraqi Mastigure Saara loricata were also seen at the site. Unfortunately, though this site has obvious importance for fish biodiversity, no surveys were conducted here.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
This lake is an important water reservoir in Central Iraq and a favorable habitat for several threatened birds including Lesser White-fronted Goose (in 2010, 37 individuals of this species were found in the Baghdad market and the seller indicated that they had been trapped at Himreen Lake). Each year the site is visited by many hunters and trappers from nearby towns and cities and it is one of the most important sites for waterfowl, birds of prey, and other wildlife used by Iraqi hunting association based in Baghdad. Hunter convoys and camps are regularly found during winter on the northern and northeastern edge of the lake. Hunting of Houbara (McQueen’s) Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii was observed in the open countryside close to the site. Fishing nets and boats were also observed and fishermen indicated that the lake provides many species of economic value; fishing is likely to increase when the security situation improves. Also Himreen Lake is an important recreation site for the people of Diyala. It becomes crowded especially near Al-Sudoor, in the southwestern part, near the water regulators. Most visible pollution was solid waste such as plastic bags and other garbage resulting from improper waste management at nearby villages. Crop farms are largely restricted to the eastern and northeastern areas around the lake but appear to have a high impact on the Lake. In addition, some housing and urban development was considered a medium threat. Construction of new roads and service lines was limited and just a few improvements were observed along the main road leading to the lake.

Habitat and land use
While no botanical survey was conducted here the following plants are found: Phragmites sp., Typha sp., Tamarix sp., Populus sp., Alhagi sp., and Astragalus sp. Date palm and fruit orchards are also common in the area. The site is well protected by both the Iraqi Army and national police.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Himreen Lake. Downloaded from on 08/08/2020.