Wetlands International

Bamako, Mali

Wetlands International

Bamako, Mali
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Wetlands International launched a report aimed at highlighting to policymakers the relationship between the health of wetland ecosystems and involuntary human migration in the Sahel region of Africa. Entitled 'Water Shocks: Wetlands and Human Migration in the Sahel', the publication examines how poor water management leads to degradation of ecosystems, and is an overlooked cause of human migration, including to Europe. Displacement and conflict are common in the Sahel. For instance, around Lake Chad, the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced more than 2.3 million people since mid-2013, including 1.3 million children. The Lake Chad Basin has lost 95% of its surface area due to water abstraction for irrigation projects, and youths from this region are joining armed groups because of lack of opportunities. "Humanitarian organisations need to connect their work with the environmental and development actors to find durable solutions. We need to understand better the complex and multifaceted drivers of involuntary migration, social conflict and poverty, which may be rooted in the depletion of natural resources," concluded Juriaan Lahr, Head of International Assistance of the Netherlands Red Cross Society. The European Union has a five-year 80 million euros funding package available to support disaster risk management across Sub-Saharan Africa. By 2020 the European Union and the African continent aim to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewables by building 10,000MW of hydropower facilities. According to the UN, there are 20 million people in the Sahel who are food-insecure, mainly due to lack of water. If development plans for hydropower and irrigation projects do not position ecosystems at the heart of national and regional development strategies, Europe and other nations will fail to achieve their goals for sustainable development. "Driving forward inclusive and sustainable development in the Sahel is an urgent, global priority. But this will only be achieved by shifting from the traditional development paradigms and hard infrastructure schemes which play havoc with the natural hydrology of the region. Maintaining and restoring the natural resource base is essential to increase water and food productivity and provide livelihood strategies to cope with a changing climate. In this context, wetlands such as river floodplains and lakes are disproportionately important; especially to the most marginalised people of the region," said Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International.

Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge | Aveling R.,Fauna and Flora International | Brooks T.M.,International Union for Conservation of Nature | Clout M.,University of Auckland | And 16 more authors.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2014

This paper presents the output of our fifth annual horizon-scanning exercise, which aims to identify topics that increasingly may affect conservation of biological diversity, but have yet to be widely considered. A team of professional horizon scanners, researchers, practitioners, and a journalist identified 15 topics which were identified via an iterative, Delphi-like process. The 15 topics include a carbon market induced financial crash, rapid geographic expansion of macroalgal cultivation, genetic control of invasive species, probiotic therapy for amphibians, and an emerging snake fungal disease. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Lehikoinen A.,University of Helsinki | Jaatinen K.,Australian National University | Vahatalo A.V.,Novia University of Applied Sciences | Vahatalo A.V.,University of Jyväskylä | And 11 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

Climate change is predicted to cause changes in species distributions and several studies report margin range shifts in some species. However, the reported changes rarely concern a species' entire distribution and are not always linked to climate change. Here, we demonstrate strong north-eastwards shifts in the centres of gravity of the entire wintering range of three common waterbird species along the North-West Europe flyway during the past three decades. These shifts correlate with an increase of 3.8 °C in early winter temperature in the north-eastern part of the wintering areas, where bird abundance increased exponentially, corresponding with decreases in abundance at the south-western margin of the wintering ranges. This confirms the need to re-evaluate conservation site safeguard networks and associated biodiversity monitoring along the flyway, as new important wintering areas are established further north and east, and highlights the general urgency of conservation planning in a changing world. Range shifts in wintering waterbirds may also affect hunting pressure, which may alter bag sizes and lead to population-level consequences. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Dalby L.,University of Aarhus | Fox A.D.,University of Aarhus | Petersen I.K.,University of Aarhus | Delany S.,Wetlands International | Svenning J.-C.,University of Aarhus
Ibis | Year: 2013

To predict future changes in wintering dabbling duck (Anas sp.) distributions in response to climate change, it is necessary to understand their response to temperature at a continental scale. Food accessibility, competition and thermoregulatory costs are likely to play a major role in determining the wintering distribution of short- to medium-distance migratory bird species and in determining how this distribution varies between years. As avian thermoregulatory costs scale allometrically with body size, it would be expected that the mean mid-winter temperature experienced by six species of dabbling ducks wintering in Western Europe would be negatively correlated with body mass. We found no clear evidence for such a relationship in a large-scale analysis, nor were there relationships between weighted mean latitude and longitude and mean January temperature experienced by each species. These results suggest that temperature is less important in shaping mid-winter duck distributions than factors such as feeding ecology. © 2012 British Ornithologists' Union.

News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

In his 49 years, Zablon Katende had never thought of leaving his hometown of Kipini in coastal Kenya. But now, looking at his dwindling mango trees, the farmer worries the harvest will not be enough to provide for his five children. “Every year there is less water,” he says, pointing at the murky Tana river which washes the shores of his village. Despite being Kenya’s longest river, the Tana is struggling to keep up with the country’s ever-growing demand for water and electricity. It is the backbone of the country’s economy, providing up to 80% of Nairobi’s water and half the country’s electricity through hydroelectric plants. Its water also irrigates thousands of hectares of cash crops such as tea, coffee and rice. However, erosion, pollution and excessive water capture are threatening the livelihoods of many who, like Katende, depend on the river. The government is currently planning to divert even more of Tana’s water for irrigation and power, but a study (pdf) by Wetlands International and the Vrije University in Amsterdam warns this management model is not ecologically sustainable. Despite concerns, Kenya’s government wants to use more of the Tana river’s resources to ensure economic prosperity for the country’s fast growing population. Known as Vision 2030, the plan includes 1m acres of monocultures, a 3km-long dam and a £28bn transportation corridor including a new port city in Lamu, near the Tana delta. Experts, however, warn the river’s resources are not unlimited. “Ignoring nature has a price,” says Julie Mulonga, programme manager of Wetlands International in Kenya. According to Mulonga, the government’s water management style focuses on the short-term benefit of industries around the capital, such as flower farms and breweries, and disregards the needs of people and animals downstream. The consequences are already being felt, especially in Tana’s delta where most locals live off fishing, raising cattle and growing sustenance crops. Without enough water, fish cannot breed, crops fail and animals are too emaciated to sell. “Without the river, nothing lives,” says Katende, who worries that the construction of another dam will mean even less water for his mango trees. Tourism is suffering, too. Tana’s delta is a wildlife refuge for hundreds of species, from hippos to monkeys. But water scarcity increases deforestation and animal poaching. What’s more, local authorities worry that competition over water will lead to violent clashes between pastoralist and farming tribes, which in 2012 resulted in 50 deaths and forced several hotels to close. The Kenyan government rejects the suggestion that their plans are putting strain on the environment, communities and business that relies on the river. “There is no need to compete over water because all economic activities on the river are complementary,” says Robinson Gaita, director of irrigation and water storage at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Gaita is overseeing the development of a new 10,000-acre maize farm near the middle section of the Tana, which he says is already improving food security. The government recently donated 62,000 bags of maize from this plantation to communities suffering from drought in the river’s delta. As for the colossal dam, Gaita says it will actually help downstream farmers like Katende because it will give the state the ability to prevent excessive flooding and increase the availability of water in case of drought – both of which are happening more frequently because of climate change. Private businesses could have a big role to play in the Tana’s conservation. Some of the country’s largest companies, including Coca-Cola and East African Breweries, have joined the Nairobi Water Fund, a scheme which aims to raise £8m to help preserve Tana’s ecosystems by planting trees or teaching farmers better soil-management practices. Nushin Ghassmi, communications manager for Frigoken, Kenya’s largest vegetable processing company, says working with the fund is important because “preserving our natural resources is crucial for our business survival”. Coca-Cola estimates the annual water treatment and filtration costs for their Nairobi bottling plant at more than $1m. Yet even with increased corporate responsibility, the Tana will continue to deteriorate if the government does not scale down its ambitious infrastructural projects, warns Pieter van Beukering, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University. If the economic benefits are not shared equally along the river this could also increase upstream migration. “Money follows water. And people follow money,” says Beukering. Many of Katende’s neighbours have already left Kipini looking for greener pastures for their cattle or cleaner waters for their nets. “But I’m a farmer,” says Katende, “I can’t abandon my land.” Instead he has joined a local conservation group to help raise awareness about the importance of preserving the Tana. Despite this year’s failing crop, he is hopeful. “We will find a way to give water to everybody,” he says. “We have to.” Sign up to be a Guardian Sustainable Business member and get more stories like this direct to your inbox every week. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Rebelo L.-M.,International Water Management Institute | Johnston R.,SRI International | Hein T.,WasserCluster Lunz | Weigelhofer G.,WasserCluster Lunz | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2013

Wetlands are too often perceived as standalone elements and are poorly integrated into river basin management. The Ramsar Convention recognizes the critical linkage between wetlands, water and river basin management; the governments that are party to the Convention have committed to conserving their wetlands within a framework of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The "Critical Path" approach and related guidance have been adopted by Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention in order to effectively integrate wetland conservation and management into river basin management planning and decision-making. However, despite international acceptance of the approach, it is not widely implemented. This paper provides one of the first case study based assessments of the Critical Path approach. The analysis of two contrasting Ramsar sites is presented in order to better understand the barriers to implementation in different development contexts. These are the Lobau wetland in Austria, where management institutions and regulatory frameworks are highly developed; and the Inner Niger Delta in Mali, where the capacity to implement IWRM is less evolved. A planning approach is proposed which involves structured and transparent methods for assessing ecosystem services and institutional capacity, and is suitable as a tool for identifying, prioritizing and negotiating trade-offs in ecosystem services and improving livelihoods. Based on the analysis, two main barriers to implementation are identified; mismatch between local and national or basin level priorities, and a lack of recognition of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | November 17, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world's endangered peatlands need better protection or else climate change will spiral out of control, environmentalists said on Thursday at the launch of a global initiative to help prevent their destruction. Peatlands cover just 3 percent of the world's land surface, but contain twice as much carbon as the entire biomass of the world's forests. If they are drained or burned, that carbon is released as greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Fifteen percent of peatlands have already been drained, according to environmental data, and many more are under threat of being destroyed to make way for palm oil crops, pulp wood production and other uses. If this is allowed to happen, the resulting increase in emissions could raise temperatures enough to thaw permafrost - frozen soil, rock or sediment. This would in turn cause peatlands in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions to also release their carbon, according to the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) which is leading the initiative launched at international climate talks in Marrakesh. "It is critical we do not reach the tipping point that will see peatlands stop sinking carbon and start spewing it into the atmosphere, destroying any hope we have of controlling climate change," Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, said in a statement. He said even with current pledges under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, the world was heading for a global temperature rise of over 3 degrees Celsius this century. "This will cause misery and chaos for millions of vulnerable people, so we cannot afford to let any opportunity to reduce emissions slip by," Solheim said. The Paris Agreement, which came into force on Nov. 4, seeks to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century. Peatlands are made up of partially decayed plant material, accumulated under water-logged conditions over long periods of time. They are mostly present in the northern hemisphere, covering large areas in North America, Russia and Europe. Peat is burned as fuel, and is highly prized as agricultural land when drained. But it is also highly flammable once drained, and has caused major fires in Indonesia and Russia in recent years. Last year, the toxic haze from peat fires in Indonesia affected 43 million people, UNEP said. Countries drawing up plans to implement the Paris Agreement can kick-start major cuts in emissions by protecting peatlands, said Martha Rojas-Urrego, secretary general of the international Ramsar Convention on wetlands conservation. However only a few countries have included plans to manage peatlands in their climate change national strategies, so more action was needed, Rojas-Urrego said. Countries taking part in the initiative include Indonesia, Peru and the Republic of Congo. It is backed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Wetlands International and the European Space Agency among other organizations.

Hooijer A.,Deltares | Page S.,University of Leicester | Canadell J.G.,CSIRO | Silvius M.,Wetlands International | And 3 more authors.
Biogeosciences | Year: 2010

Forested tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia store at least 42 000 Million metric tonnes (Mt) of soil carbon. Human activity and climate change threatens the stability of this large pool, which has been decreasing rapidly over the last few decades owing to deforestation, drainage and fire. In this paper we estimate the carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions resulting from drainage of lowland tropical peatland for agricultural and forestry development which dominates the perturbation of the carbon balance in the region. Present and future emissions from drained peatlands are quantified using data on peatland extent and peat thickness, present and projected land use, water management practices and decomposition rates. Of the 27.1 Million hectares (Mha) of peatland in Southeast Asia, 12.9 Mha had been deforested and mostly drained by 2006. This latter area is increasing rapidly because of increasing land development pressures. Carbon dioxide (CO 2) emission caused by decomposition of drained peatlands was between 355 Mt y -1 and 855 Mt y -1 in 2006 of which 82% came from Indonesia, largely Sumatra and Kalimantan. At a global scale, CO 2 emission from peatland drainage in Southeast Asia is contributing the equivalent of 1.3% to 3.1% of current global CO 2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel. If current peatland development and management practices continue, these emissions are predicted to continue for decades. This warrants inclusion of tropical peatland CO 2 emissions in global greenhouse gas emission calculations and climate mitigation policies. Uncertainties in emission calculations are discussed and research needs for improved estimates are identified. © 2010 Author(s).

Zhang X.,Nanjing Normal University | Liu H.,Nanjing Normal University | Baker C.,Wetlands International | Graham S.,Wetlands International China
Ecological Engineering | Year: 2012

Sedge dominated peatlands do not rehabilitate well after being drained for rangelands and specific approaches are required in order to restore these sites. Restoration by blocking drainage canals aims to recover peatland functions, principally by raising the water table. Field surveys in Ruoergai, China identified the status of peatland degradation and satellite image analysis concluded that most of Ruoergai's peatlands are degraded mainly due to drainage and overgrazing. The restoration approach used in Ruoergai resulted in increased water levels up to 26. cm higher than previously recorded in canals. Levels in shallow water canals also increased up to 50. cm, which led to an overflow of water and rewetting of the adjacent peatlands. This resulted in one peat-mining site being filled with water and aquatic vegetation. Pioneering vegetation including Heleocharis Horsetail (Equisetum heleocharis) and Halerpestes (Halerpestes tricuspis) colonized in the restored sites. It was concluded that blocking canals could be an effective method to restore hydrological function of drained peatlands and contribute to vegetation recovery. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Gaidet N.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Cappelle J.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Prosser D.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2010

1. Migratory birds are major candidates for long-distance dispersal of zoonotic pathogens. In recent years, wildfowl have been suspected of contributing to the rapid geographic spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus. Experimental infection studies reveal that some wild ducks, geese and swans shed this virus asymptomatically and hence have the potential to spread it as they move.2. We evaluate the dispersive potential of HPAI H5N1 viruses by wildfowl through an analysis of the movement range and movement rate of birds monitored by satellite telemetry in relation to the apparent asymptomatic infection duration (AID) measured in experimental studies. We analysed the first large-scale data set of wildfowl movements, including 228 birds from 19 species monitored by satellite telemetry in 2006-2009, over HPAI H5N1 affected regions of Asia, Europe and Africa.3. Our results indicate that individual migratory wildfowl have the potential to disperse HPAI H5N1 over extensive distances, being able to perform movements of up to 2900 km within timeframes compatible with the duration of asymptomatic infection.4. However, the likelihood of such virus dispersal over long distances by individual wildfowl is low: we estimate that for an individual migratory bird there are, on average, only 5-15 days per year when infection could result in the dispersal of HPAI H5N1 virus over 500 km.5. Staging at stopover sites during migration is typically longer than the period of infection and viral shedding, preventing birds from dispersing a virus over several consecutive but interrupted long-distance movements. Intercontinental virus dispersion would therefore probably require relay transmission between a series of successively infected migratory birds.6. Synthesis and applications. Our results provide a detailed quantitative assessment of the dispersive potential of HPAI H5N1 virus by selected migratory birds. Such dispersive potential rests on the assumption that free-living wildfowl will respond analogously to captive, experimentally-infected birds, and that asymptomatic infection will not alter their movement abilities. Our approach of combining experimental exposure data and telemetry information provides an analytical framework for quantifying the risk of spread of avian-borne diseases. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society.

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