BLOG: Bankers, what are the risks of your peatland investments?
By Telly Kurniasari, Wetlands International Indonesia
The world’s increasing demand for palm oil and pulp wood for paper production attracts the private sector to invest more and more in these businesses in Indonesia and Malaysia. But are banks, the creditors of these businesses, aware of the risks of their investments in palm oil and pulp wood plantations when these are developed on peatlands?
BLOG: Mobilizing knowledge on the soy story at the Round Table on Responsible Soy
By Jan Heinrich, Wetlands International and Hernán de Arriba, ProYungas.
- With the theme ‘Thinking Outside the Box’, the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Round Table (RT9) on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in Brazil from 7-8 May, aimed to capture ideas on how to introduce innovation to the world of responsible soy. Supporting this vibe, ProYungas and Wetlands International presented the Socio-Environmental Observatory on Soy (OSAS), the first database that systematically monitors the expansion and social and environmental impacts of soy in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.
BLOG: Saving wetlands through responsible cultivation of soy
By Marta Andelman, Wetlands International Argentina -
Those consuming tofu and soy milk, but especially meat eaters and those driving a car should keep a critical eye on the impacts of soy cultivation. About 70 percent of soy cultivated is used for animal feed fulfilling the growing meat demands in the world, while the second largest driver of soy expansion is for the use of biodiesel. Whilst recognising these values of soy, its expansion has adverse impacts on important wetlands and forests in South America, and violates land rights. We therefore join many other NGO’s in their efforts to green the soy industry.
BLOG: Water Supply and Sanitation (WASH) in Harmony with Nature
By Susanne Boom - The grassy hillsides and vast forests around Rwambu wetland in south-western Uganda are not only a beautiful sight to see - it is fertile land which sustains agricultural based livelihoods, such as coffee, tea, bananas and beans. The Rwambu wetland is also a success story of integrated nature-based solutions.
BLOG: Sustainability commitments of peat-heavy industry
By Bas Tinhout
In Southeast Asia about 25% of plantations are currently on peat and some companies have more than 75% of their plantations on these carbon rich soils. But an increasing number of palm oil and pulp wood producing giants are announcing their commitments to no deforestation and no peatland conversion. What are their real intentions for peatlands?
NEWS: Spotlights on ‘Building with Nature’ by Netherlands and Indonesia
Yesterday, a week-long exchange visit about integrated coastal management by the government of Indonesia to the Netherlands was formally opened by Wim Kuijken, Deltacommissioner of the Netherlands. Both Wim Kuijken and Mr. Eko Rudianto, Director of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia highlighted ‘Building with Nature’ as an effective approach to sustainable coastal management.
BLOG: New hope for coastal resilience for the people of Timbul Sloko
By Femke Tonneijck -
It was an early Saturday morning in Timbul Sloko, at the North Coast of central Java, Indonesia, and not just any Saturday. It was a day of hope. The community gathered together to discuss the rehabilitation of their lost land.
BLOG: Hand in hand: wetland conservation and tourism in Senegal
By Taej Mundkur -
I recently got the chance to experience the natural beauty of Djoudj National Park in Senegal for the first time and see its conservation needs. The Djoudj is a paradise for over a million waterbirds and a lot of other biodiversity. It provides an ideal setting for developing sustainable solutions such as tourism that should allow the surrounding villages, visitors and nature to benefit from this natural wonder.
BLOG: The “art” of flyway conservation
By Szabolcs Nagy and Stephan Flink -
Wetlands International’s team is currently working on the 6th edition of the AEWA Conservation Status Report, which summarises the available knowledge about the size and trends of migratory waterbird populations.
Blue Challenges, Green Opportunities: Wetlands Matter!
The Hague, The Netherlands - With the societal and environmental costs of wetland degradation already huge and growing fast, Wetlands International brought over 100 current and prospective partners and supporters together to explore opportunities for positive action to sustain and restore wetlands in a reception at the atmospheric De Glazen Zaal (Glass Room) in the Hague. The evening featured an interactive marketplace to showcase some of our current initiatives, plus distinguished speakers and interviews with current partners on how our work with different sectors is helping to protect and restore wetlands. In addition to celebrating World Wetlands Day, the event also featured the launch of Wetlands International’s new logo.
BLOG: Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (7)
By Han Winterwerp
In my previous blogs, we discussed that a healthy mangrove-mud coast is dynamic, and how these dynamics are controlled by the tide and the waves. In a healthy coastal system, these processes, which bring sediment towards the coast and take the sediments away, are more or less balanced.
BLOG: The secret to Africa’s drylands is the wetlands? What prospects for future food security?
Jane Madgwick, CEO Wetlands International
When you think of the Sahel in Africa, what picture does it conjure up? Dry sandy areas with scattered trees and perhaps hungry-looking children looking after cattle and goats? Maybe fewer of you imagine big river systems, heaving with fish, and lined with flooded forests? The magic of this zone, which stretches across Africa and borders the Sahara, is that it is both very dry and very wet. And that nature and people depend on both the drylands and wetlands and move in-between according to the seasons.
BLOG: First stage of the Grand West Asian Wintering Waterbird Survey in Saudi Arabia completed
By Szabolcs Nagy
The 5th Conservation Status Report produced by Wetlands International for the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) highlighted that our understanding of the status of wintering waterbirds is the weakest in the West Asian / East African flyway. This is partially a consequence of insufficient capacity in the region. To help tackle the problem we are supporting the development of strategies for countries in the region with the help of the MAVA Foundation.
Blog: East Atlantic Flyway training for site managers and local NGO leaders in Senegal
By Szabolcs Nagy
“Migratory waterbirds connecting wetlands and people” is the motto of the Flyway Programme of Wetlands International. This was put into practice during a workshop organised for site managers and local NGO leaders along the East Atlantic Flyway in Africa, held between 14-18 December in the Djoudj National Park, Senegal.
PHOTO BLOG: Climate Smart Land Use: Paludiculture in the Tropics
By Bas Tinhout
In the tropics, peat swamp forests are often logged and converted to oil palm and pulp wood plantations. This results in adverse effects on the natural resource base of local communities and impacts the biodiversity, water regulation and carbon storage functions of peatlands. As an alternative, paludiculture is a sustainable form of agriculture which enables the productive use of rewetted peatlands. It will prevent the oxidation of the peat carbon, thus preventing the massive natural organic carbon store from turning into the greenhouse gas CO2.
BLOG: Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (6)
By Han Winterwerp and Thorsten Balke
If you ever visit a mangrove-mud coast, you will see that the mangroves grow more or less between the waterlines at mean high water and the waterline at the highest tidal level occurring in a year. Understanding the relation between tides and mangroves is therefore essential to rehabilitation efforts.
BLOG: Flood Forests are the ‘banks’ storing the wealth of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta
By Bakary Kone, Wetlands International Mali
The 38 floodplain forests of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta are very important to the economy and livelihoods of the 1.5 million people who live there. They contain much of the natural wealth of the delta and are therefore referred to locally as ‘banks’.
NEWS: What future for land use in the climate negotiations?
Outsiders and newcomers to the United Nations climate negotiations are easily overwhelmed by the complexity of discussions around land use and forestry. But this might change in 2015.
BLOG: A Tale of Two Heroes
Author: Yus Rusila Noor, Wetlands International, Indonesia
Often conservation work starts with individual initiatives. The stories of Haji Madsahi and Babah Akong emphasize the value of local knowledge and initiative for the restoration of coastal ecosystems. They have both received awards for their work and Wetlands International now works with them, so that their efforts can be further scaled up.
PRESS RELEASE: Tropical palm oil is much more polluting than IPCC technical committee suggests
A controversial report from a technical committee of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is under-estimating the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by palm oil grown on tropical peatlands by nearly 50%, according to NGOs.
NEWS: How Mangroves Help in Reducing Flooding and Coastal Erosion
Authors: Femke Tonneijck, Wetlands International; Bregje van Wesenbeeck, Deltares; and Mark Spalding, The Nature Conservancy
Inhabitants of low lying delta areas are particularly exposed to flooding and erosion caused by storms and hurricanes. These pressures increase with climate change and sea level rise. Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves, can play a key role in damage mitigation during disasters, as well as in stabilising coastlines. They also contribute to aquaculture and fisheries. Integration of ecosystem-based coastal protection in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction policies and resulting measures to conserve these landscapes are essential if mangroves are to keep protecting us. Full article featured in Outreach Magazine.
BLOG: Oil Palm on Peat: A path to (inevitable) disaster
Author: Marcel Silvius
Oil palm cultivation on peatlands is seen as an attractive option for many plantation developers in Southeast Asia. Not only is the land extensively available, the soils – despite the poor soil fertility – are somehow “working” for oil palm cultivation. Peatlands can therefore be perceived as lucrative and attractive for expansion of oil palm plantations.
So why then is oil palm on peat a path to disaster? We highlight two major impacts in this article. Firstly, peatland drainage for oil palm results in substantial carbon emissions. Secondly it results in flooding and land loss as a result of soil subsidence. We also offer some solutions.
Full article featured in sustainable Palm Oil: Conversation and Debate
NEWS: Towards sustainable development of palm oil
Medan, Indonesia – 11th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil
Oil palm growers, the food, cosmetics and oil industry, governments, scientists and environmental and social groups from all over the world participate this week in the 11th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT11 RSPO). The main theme of this year’s meeting is “RSPO Standard 2013. Understand. Apply. Embrace”. Wetlands International has been involved in the review process of the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and will actively participate in the Roundtable meeting.
The art of augering in tropical peat
By Denise Cheah
In order to better understand the Badas peat dome in Brunei, we needed to clear a path through the peat forest, stick monitoring pipes into the ground at several intervals and take measurements. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, I’ve never been so wrong in my entire life.
When green is blue
By Mark Spalding
My colleagues and I have just worked out how much carbon there is in the world’s mangrove forests, give or take a bit. And we mapped it. And here’s why these findings are tremendously important.
How to stop the sand in the Inner Niger Delta
Sobé and other villages in the Mali Inner Niger Delta are threatened by the desert's sand. Communities are forced to rebuild their homes every two years to avoid burial by sand dunes, which are moving as a result of degradation of the Savannah.
First ‘permeable structures’ in place to protect eroding coastlines in Java
By Etwin Kuslati, Wetlands International Indonesia
What do you do when your house is slowly being swallowed by the sea???
This is the question that Wetlands International was asked to advise on by the community of Timbul Sloko Village, on the North coast of Central Java, Indonesia.
The Camel Caravan
How to get the attention from the government, private sector, communities and press at the same time for water availability problems downstream the river? In Kenya local indigenous peoples organizations managed to come up with an eye-catching initiative. They organized a Camel Caravan.
Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (5)
By Han Winterwerp
In my previous blogs, I have tried to convince you that the erosion of mangrove-mud coasts is directly related to thoughtless land-use. Though the observations are self-evident, we need to understand the underlying physical processes before we can think of mitigating measures. And that is only possible if we understand the behavior of a healthy mangrove-mud coast.
Putting environmental sustainability at the core of WASH Practice
Stockholm – WASH (drinking water supply, sanitation and hygiene) relies on and impacts water. Therefore, environmental sustainability needs to be at the core of WASH practice. Wetlands International featured our experiences reaching nature-based solutions and sought out additional partners to help transform the WASH sector at an event during Stockholm World Water Week.
Bridges over troubled waters in Central Asia?
by Jane Madgwick, CEO Wetlands International
It’s thanks to Tajikistan that it’s the UN International Year of Water Cooperation. Through a string of events, the world’s attention is focused on the water crisis and the urgent need for humanity to tackle it through improved cooperation – between nation states, across and between sectors, industry, government and civil society.
Diary of a Wetlands International intern in Central Java
- By Stefan Verschure
I spent 4 months doing fieldwork in Timbul Sloko, a small village in Demak District, on the North coast of Central Java (Indonesia). I was there as part of a Wetlands International project to restore the eroding mud coast of the village through hybrid engineering.
Room for the River as an antidote to Europe’s flood woes
By Paul Brotherton
As part of a training course on river restoration sponsored by the RESTORE project, I recently visited the Waal River, a main branch of the Rhine River, flowing through the Netherlands. Here the Dutch are making ‘Room for the River’, restoring floodplains to reduce the risks of floods and creating benefits for people and nature. On the heels of recent catastrophic floods in Central Europe, this approach deserves a closer look if Europe is to meet many of its growing environmental and social policy challenges, including climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (4)
By Han Winterwerp
In my previous blogs, I described the large losses of our mangrove heritage, in spite of the great value of these ecosystems. Today, I argue that these losses are caused by thoughtless land-use.
New hope for water and life in the Senegal delta?
by Jane Madgwick, CEO Wetlands International
A week before US President Obama descends on Senegal to encourage the tracking down of terrorists in the region, I joined our Africa team and my international Supervisory Council there to investigate issues related to a more fundamental security challenge – relating to increasingly scarce water resources. As we witnessed in Mali last year, water security, human conflicts and mass migrations are closely intertwined in this fragile Sahelian zone.
Putting the carbon ahead of the drivers
By Vera Coelho
The round of applause at the end of the REDD+ negotiations in Bonn reflected the relief of the Parties at having concluded work on several difficult issues. But their efforts will not stop deforestation and forest degradation.
At the 4th session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, a green elephant seemed to be standing at the back of the plenary room.
By Vera Coelho
Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 3)
By Han Winterwerp and Bregje van Wesenbeeck
In my first blog, I introduced the term “ecosystem services”, which has become a popular way to refer to the value of ecosystems. This is an important concept as it provides a counter-argument to the often narrow-minded and short-eyed approach of economics.
Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 2)
By Han Winterwerp -
In my previous blog, I have tried to explain the importance of mangrove mud coasts. Of course, these coasts are beautiful, exotic environments, with rare species, such as the mud skipper and numerous crabs, as well as rare birds.
Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 1)
By Han Winterwerp -
I am an engineer. I am a civil engineer and I work with “cohesive sediment”, which is a fancy term for mud. Mud is all over the place, in lakes and rivers, in river mouths (estuaries) and inlets, along the coast and in the deep ocean.
Interview with Ritesh Kumar about the Lake Chilika (India)
This article, originally entitled "The Story of Lake Chilika" is published in the book "The Ecosystem Promise" by Meindert Brouwer.
Trust and Hospitality in the Chicorral Community, Ixtahuacán, Sololá, Guatemala
By Azucena Luna Ordóñez
For those who have all the basic services, it may be hard to conceive of the extreme poverty faced by the indigenous K'iche communities. My first experience in the Bio-rights initiative was to visit Chicorral, the most remote and difficult to access community, and smallest with only 20 families.
Interview with Professor Chen Kelin about the Ruoergai Plateau wetlands
This article, originally entitled "Many millions of people will benefit from the restoration of the Ruoergai Plateau wetlands" is published in the book "The Ecosystem Promise" by Meindert Brouwer.
Waist Deep in Mud
By Audrie J. Siahainenia
Mangrove ecosystems are by definition muddy. Land and sea animals happily live and reproduce in these coastal forests, but such muddy conditions can present a bit of challenge for researchers.
Blog: Doha concludes with few conclusions
- By Vera Coelho -
The United Nations’ climate summit in Doha has come to an end after two weeks of heated and protracted negotiations. Amongst limited progress, the general trend has been to delay decisions and refer further discussions to next year.
Blog from Doha: Red lines hinder REDD+ progress
- By Vera Coelho -
The first week of the Doha Climate Conference is over, and so is the SBSTA – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. After a relatively slow start, REDD+ negotiators really started feeling the time pressure, as the closure of the week drew nearer and several unresolved issues remained.
Blog from Doha: Calm before the storm?
By Vera Coelho -
The first few days in Doha at the Climate Conference have been relatively quiet. After a full day of opening ceremonies, delegates sat down for real business on Tuesday and Wednesday. Discussions focused on organisation of work and future ways forward but now that the first half of the first week has passed, one can definitely feel a change in pace.
Blog: Close encounters of the mangrove kind
By Vera Coelho.
I admit it: before joining Wetlands International I had never even seen a mangrove. I knew about these funny trees with their roots in brackish water, but I also admit that I had no idea of the amazing ecosystems they are. All of that changed recently, when I had the opportunity to join colleagues from seven of our Wetlands International offices at a meeting in our Indonesia office, in Bogor.
Blog: Bringing Ecosystems into Disaster Risk Reduction at the Asian Ministerial Conference
By Marie-Jose Vervest
Along with Yus Rusila Noor of our Indonesia office, I recently participated in the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from 22 – 25 October 2012 as part of the Partners for Resilience consortium. Our participation was a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of healthy ecosystems for resilient livelihoods and the use of ‘natural infrastructure’ as a buffer against extreme events.
Blog: Reflections from Hyderabad – CBD COP 11 outcomes
By Ritesh Kumar
As the Conservation Programme Manager for South Asia, I represented Wetlands International at the 11th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India that concluded on October 20, 2012. Going from one side event to the other, either presenting or joining discussion panels, this conference in my home country was a very satisfying experience for me. With you, I’d like to share several positive outcomes and actions:
Blog: Once you drained it, you risk losing it all!
By Aprianto Masjhur
Peatlands have been recognised for their high carbon storage and their potential to emit a huge amount of carbon emissions once they are drained. Their annual carbon emissions of 2 billion tonnes are a paramount issue in the global effort to mitigate climate change. However, the perilous and far-reaching consequences from peat drainage activities are not limited to carbon loss only. Another key concern that so far has been given insufficient attention is the issue of ‘subsidence’.
Interview with Bakary Kone about the Inner Niger Delta (Mali)
This article "Issues in the Inner Niger Delta: Interview with Bakary Kone, Director of Wetlands International Mali Office" is published in the book 'The Ecosystem Promise' by Meindert Brouwer.
From Bangkok to Doha: what can the UNFCCC do for wetlands?
By Vera Coelho
The three main negotiation tracks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have held informal sessions in Bangkok, Thailand between 30 August and 5 September 2012. The sessions were not mandated to produce negotiating text, but were seen as a necessary forum for discussion before the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18), which will take place in Doha, Qatar at the end of November.
Blog: Peatlands benefit us all – Don’t drain them!
By Maria Nuutinen, FAO
Why should we keep peatlands wet? If they have been drained, why should we bother to rewet them? The answer is that peatlands provide huge benefits that often go unrecognised. Presentations from China and Belarus in a side event co-organised by Wetlands International at the Ramsar Convention Conference of the Parties (COP11) gave excellent overviews of the benefits as well as challenges of peatland conservation and rewetting for climate change mitigation.
Blog: Feeling exposed? Plant a tree!
By Vera Coelho
What would you do if your community was hit by a tsunami? When confronted with disaster, human responses vary: despair, anger, disbelief, sorrow. Planting trees might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
Blog: Wetlands International tackles pesticide overuse in rice paddies at Ramsar Conference
By Paul Brotherton, from the Ramsar Convention in Bucharest
The overuse of pesticides in rice paddies in Southeast Asia is currently fueling a devastating pest outbreak epidemic. Due to the urgent need for the Ramsar Convention to address these issues, we felt it important to present the facts supporting it. Therefore, Wetlands International's team from its India, Argentina and the Netherlands offices held an informational event together with partners FAO, IRRI and IWMI.
Blog: Wetlands International leaders honoured as 11th Ramsar Conference of Parties begins
By Paul Brotherton, from the Ramsar Convention in Bucharest
Delegates and observers filled the beautiful Rosetti Hall of Romania’s Palace of the Parliament for the opening ceremony of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Speech of CEO Jane Madgwick on the Future of Europe's Rivers
Brussels, Belgium - CEO Jane Madgwick of Wetlands International spoke on The Future of Europe’s Waters at a European Parliament Interactive Seminar chaired by MEP Giancarlo Scotta earlier this month. Other speakers included Nicola Natoro (Directorate General Environment, European Commission), Martin Scheele, (Directorate General Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission) and Antoine Poupard of the French Farmer’s Association. The seminar was sponsored by Wetlands International member organization FACE, the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU.
Thinking outside the box by connecting the dots
By Ward Hagemeijer, Corporate Relations Manager
First impressions from the NGO science partnership workshop with Shell, 4-5 April 2012, Texel.
Your ears and eyes in the Inner Niger Delta
My name is Mamadou. I am a journalist working for 'What If We Change', an interactive video platform which gives insights in the daily lives of people that depend on ecosystems such as wetlands. I am your eyes and ears in Mali where I work together with Wetlands International to improve water management and support ecosystem restoration in the Inner Niger Delta. By sharing my films and stories I hope to draw your attention for the millions of people that rely on the sustainable use of this beautiful wetland.
Speech of CEO Jane Madgwick at World Wetlands Day
Welcome on World Wetlands Day! A day to celebrate the role of wetlands in contributing to biodiversity and human well-being. Wetlands International was instrumental in campaigning for and creating the Ramsar Convention and was present in this event in 1971 in Iran when it was formed. The vision and emphasised the crucial role of wetlands in contributing to sustainable development. This is still our message today…but more urgent!
Deal or No Deal for Peatlands in Durban
By Susanna Tol, from the UN Climate Summit in Durban. For two weeks, I am at the climate summit in Durban, meeting governmental delegations from all over the world to get the emissions from wetland degradation addressed.
Ecosystem solutions to cope with Philippine flood disasters
By Pieter van Eijk
Enormous logs float by while we navigate the Agusan river on Mindanao, the second largest island of the Philippines. A silent testimony of decades of ravaging sawmills and chainsaws that denuded most of the archipelago's once virgin hill slopes. The noisy motor of our boat stirs up a deeply brown-coloured mixture of water and sediment. Two decades ago, local fishermen tell me, the water was clear and readily drinkable.