Wetlands are one of the world’s most important environmental assets, existing in all continents and latitudes. Wetlands are home of a large biota diversity and provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits related to timber, fisheries, hunting, recreational and tourist activities, etc. In general they provide a wide array of useful and appreciated ecosystem services related to water quality preservation, erosion shore protection from wave action, nurseries for fish and other freshwater and marine animals. Wetlands can be critical to groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and reductions of storm and flooding damages. Wetlands play an important role in educating people about biodiversity and natural processes. However, many wetlands across the world have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and peoples' livelihoods. Many of their resources are considered under risk as a result of anthropic impacts related to water management, damming, fishing, farming, oil exploitation, agriculture and forestry, etc. The losses are larger and faster on inland than on coastal natural areas.
The overall mission of the Thematic Group is to develop a global network of experts dedicated to promote the preservation and restoration of wetlands and sustainable use of their resources by maintaining their ecosystem services, enhancing their biodiversity, ecological processes, resilience, livelihoods and water, food and-health security for local communities.
To reach this goal several specific objectives should be addressed by the WE Group:
a) Educate and communicate society at different levels (managers, community leaders, decision makers, public, children and youth, etc.) on the importance to preserve wetlands ecological integrity highlighting this attribute as a key to maintain healthy ecosystem services
b) Stimulate research and knowledge on how sustainable use of renewable natural resources can foster more resilient wetlands
c) Promote the conservation and enhancement of wetlands biologic biodiversity and habitat structure
d) Promote an ecosystem-based approach to support wetlands management and planning policies, including stakeholder participation and suitable governance processes.
e) Relate wetlands conservation with incoming climate changes in different world areas.
f) Encourage thematic group participants to stimulate partnerships, collaboration and networking that address problems and visions related to wetlands conservation at large scale and transboundary monitoring.
g) Provide guidance and technical skills to managers and other stakeholders (NGOs, CBOs, indigenous and local communities, etc.) interested in assessing and monitoring wetlands and their resources
Due to the cross-cutting relevance of water, objectives of the Wetlands Ecosystem Thematic group are strongly linked with other CEM thematic groups such as the Ecosystem Services, Climate Change Adaptation, Coastal Ecosystem, Petland Ecosystem, Dryland Ecosystem, Mountain Ecosystem, Resilience, Sustainable Use and Management of Ecosystem, Ecosystem Restoration Ecosystem and the Private Sector, etc.
WE Thematic group objectives are also related with tasks developed by the Commission on Education and Communication, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, World Commission on Environmental Law, Species Survival Commission, World Commission on Protected Areas, being also transversal to most of UICN Programs, and Mangroves for the Future and Water and Nature initiatives
Convention on Biological Diversity including the process of identification of Ecological and Biologicaal Sensitive Ares (EBSAs), Vulnerable Marine - Ecosystems (VME);
Link with Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI)
Expected Activities and Outputs
• Promote regional and international workshops related to wetlands conservation and management
• Explore potential cooperation with other cross- sectorial partners to address problems of water management in wetland systems
• Provide a list of ongoing projects, initiatives, future activities and available products developed by WE members
• Development and publishing (pdf version) of wetlands-based governance criteria to support a sustainable management approach related to human activities in different wetlands types
• Participation in cross-sectorial activities related to wetlands and climate change adaptation
• Develop an picture album of world iconic wetlands showing natural and impacted conditions
• Develop an educative factsheet directed to students of elementary schools and to be distributed via internet highlighting the relevance of wetland as a provider if key ecosystem services
• Participate in the process of developing the Red List of Ecosystems
• Assess the economic value of wetlands to better highlight their usefulness
• Promote planned/targeted collective activities to at the next Ramsar COP13 in UAE, 2018