Enabling the wise use of wetlands through integrated wetland management

An innovative action planning toolkit on wetland conservation and management is now available online. Funded by the European Commission, as part of the HighARCS project, the Wetland Resources Action Planning (WRAP) Toolkit offers researchers, technical planners and policy-makers a systematic approach to conserving and sustainably managing aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity at any site scale. The toolkit provides a suite of methods and practices, together with insights from lessons learned.

N. Buxa

Wetlands (including rivers and lakes) constitute only 1% of the world’s land area, but support 7% of the world’s species and provide essential resources to billions of people. Yet these ecosystems are being lost and degraded at an alarming rate, largely due to their perceived lack of value. Their significant value to economies and livelihoods is rarely incorporated into development planning.

“Our failure to value wetlands in ways that protect their ecosystem services, through the sustainable management of their biodiversity, is costing people and biodiversity dearly”, says William Darwall, Head of the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme. “This toolkit helps to address this critical issue, providing guidance for integrating the value of ecosystem services within the planning process”.

The management of wetlands usually focuses on the water itself, such as for energy provision or irrigation. Poverty reduction strategies tend to undervalue biodiversity and ecosystem services, and similarly where conservation activities are the focus, poverty and livelihood concerns are not considered. More effective integration of both conservation and livelihoods objectives is essential for sustainable wetland management.

The new online toolkit is building upon of a previous wetland assessment and valuation toolkit IWAT (Integrated Wetland Assessment Toolkit), developed by IUCN. However, the WRAP toolkit provides ‘integrated’ tools and guidance that incorporates biodiversity, livelihoods, ecosystem services and policy, throughout the whole action planning process; from stakeholder engagement and assessment of wetland values to the development and implementation of action plans.

“The toolkit provides a unique approach to not only help define and understand the issues at a wetland, but also how to best address them while incorporating the needs and livelihoods of local communities and conserving biodiversity” says Professor Luo Shiming, South China Agricultural University & HighARCS project partner. “Through applying the toolkit we have for the first time brought together all stakeholders including government, local industry, and the fishing communities along with conservation needs to develop and implement actions that aim to manage the wetlands in a more sustainable way. Our action plan, built around this multidisciplinary integrated approach, is already generating positive actions for biodiversity and those communities that depend upon it.”

The WRAP toolkit has strong links to policy, both at the site scale through the resulting action planning process, but also at the international scale. For example, the WRAP toolkit is especially relevant for those involved in the management of wetland sites listed under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) where countries have committed to the wise use of wetlands through management actions, planning, policy and education.

Application of the WRAP toolkit also contributes to the work to achieve the Aichi Targets (UN Convention on Biological Diversity – Strategic Plan for Biodiversity) which state that by 2020, all fish and invertebrate stocks are to be managed and harvested sustainably; for biodiversity to be integrated into development and poverty reduction strategies, and for essential ecosystem services including those related to water to be restored and safeguarded.

For more information please contact:
Mr. Kevin Smith – HighARCS Project Partner, IUCN Global Species Programme. Tel. +44 1223 277 966. Email: [email protected]

Work area: 
Protected Areas
Freshwater species
Biodiversity indicators
Conservation Planning
South America
North America
East and Southern Africa
West and Central Africa
West Asia
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