Wetlands conservation

Source: IPS
The INTECOL conference means to assess the status of global wetlands, identify knowledge gaps, foster greater collaboration and consistency in wetland science worldwide, and offer plain-spoken policy prescriptions for decision makers with an appeal to adopt them with urgency. July 2008. [see more]
Wetlands are areas of marshes, swamps, peatlands or water-covered surfaces, whether stagnant or flowing, fresh or brackish waters; they include floodplains or adjacent coastal areas, as well as islands or seawaters within wetlands.

This definition may not stress the importance that wetlands have for the environment, an importance which has also led them to be dubbed “the kidneys of the earth”, due to their role as natural filtering processes, replenishing groundwater and making it apt for human consumption.

Wetlands also regulate river volumes, slowing water flow in the rain season, thus preventing freshets and floods during such periods and droughts in the dry seasons. Furthermore, a large portion of the world’s food supply depends on wetlands, as they are the natural habitat for many crops and for one of our leading cereals: rice. Moreover, alluvial grasslands are the main source of food for bovine cattle, and most of the fish we consume live in wetlands during at least some part of their life cycle. Wetlands are the only natural habitat for many rare species, and these areas are vital for the diversity of animal and plant life in the world. They are also essential for some economies, as they are key attractions for ecological tourism or because they supply raw materials for the production of paper or basketry goods. Wetlands also have favorable micro and macroclimatic effects. The evapotranspiration generated by wetlands maintains local levels of humidity and rainfall.

It is estimated that approximately 8,600,000 sq. km. (around 6.4% of the earth’s land surface), an area somewhat larger than Europe, are covered by wetlands. Wetlands are found in every continent except Antarctica and in every climate, from the tropics to the tundra. However, it is calculated that since 1990, and with the alleged intention of recovering these lands for other uses, nearly half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed, adding yet another threat to the many posed by human activity to the earth’s ecosystems.

As of 1971, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, an intergovernmental treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran, provides a framework for local action and international cooperation in the conservation and rational use of wetlands and wetland resources. More than 100 countries have ratified the Convention, contributing to draw up a list of nearly 900 wetlands protected by the Convention. This list is continuously expanded through the efforts of ecological organizations and the concern of some environmental ministries.

On November 18 through 26, 2002, the Eight Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention was held in Valencia, Spain. This meeting included a conference of NGOs and local communities who denounced the Parties’ general failure to implement the recommendations and resolutions adopted in previous conferences, and demanded stricter control to enforce them, emphasizing in particular the threat posed to wetlands by the growing number of large dams being built and the intensification of unsustainable agricultural and cattle-raising systems associated with these ecosystems.
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UPDATES
Tuesday, July 22 2008
Wetlands loss fuelling CO2 feedback loop
(Source: IPS)
Wednesday, January 17 2007
Valuing wetlands: Guidance for valuing the benefits derived from wetland ecosystem services
(Source: Convention on Biological Diversity)
Tuesday, April 19 2005
Rehabilitating wetlands: an African case study
(Source: World Conservation Union)
more on this issue

The Ramsar Convention

Official Site

The text of the Convention

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

Results of the 8th Conference of the Parties

World Wetlands Day 2004 (The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands)

Information resources

Information on wetlands

The Wetland Regulation Centre site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site on wetlands

Valuing wetlands: Guidance for valuing the benefits derived from wetland ecosystem services (Convention on Biological Diversity)

Specific wetland sites

Wetlands of India

Ramsar Sites in Brazil

Rennies Wetland Projects

National Wetlands Inventory

Civil society

Ríos Vivos

Wetlands International

Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina (FVSA)

The World Conservation Union (IUCN)

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Friends of the Earth International (FOEI)

Society of Wetlands Scientists

Bibliography and links

The Ramsar Library

Socio-economics of wetlands

Constructed Wetlands Bibliography

Wetland Links

Articles and reports

Wetlands loss fuelling CO2 feedback loop (IPS)

The role of local knowledge in wetland management in Ethiopia (id21)

Rehabilitating wetlands: an African case study (World Conservation Union)

Wetland management: the case of the pantanal wetland (United Nations University)

Wetlands: wastelands or sources of wealth? (Third World Network Features)

Resurrection planned for magnificent wetlands in Costa Rica's Pacific lowlands (Eco-Exchange)


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