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Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

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Policy Brief Calls for Major Shift in Policies for Wetland Conservation

“Wetland conservation for biodiversity and ecosystem services needs a shift in land and water resources policies.” Thus suggests the policy brief which the National Institute of Ecology (NIE), India, recently published.

Download an e-Copy: Policy Brief on Wetland Conservation

The policy brief, along with five biodiversity posters and a draft guideline for rapid assessment of wetland biodiversity, were formally released by Dr. S. Ayyappan, Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research and Education, on 8 June 2015 at a workshop on policy issues relating to the conservation of wetlands. These products are outputs of the project entitled “Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of Wetlands in Relation to Global Change” (CBA2014-05NSY(B&ES)-Gopal) funded by APN through its Capacity Development Programme (CAPaBLE).

Wetlands are “places where water is the primary factor controlling plant and animal life and the wider environment” (Pittock et al., 2015) and provide a variety of important ecosystem functions such as recharging groundwater supplies and trapping floodwaters in addition to facilitating nutrient cycling and the production of rice and fish as staple food for more than half of the world’s human population. In India, about 38% of inland freshwater wetlands had been degraded or lost in recent decades—due to rapid urbanisation and lack of attention given to them in the development plans.

The policy brief centres around the key message that conservation of wetlands with the objective of protecting their biodiversity, specific biophysical characteristics and obtaining optimum benefits (ecosystem goods and services) requires a major shift in policies related to land and water use. It also emphasises the need to assess and value in economic terms the ecosystem services from wetlands particularly addressing the benefits to the local community and their livelihoods.