Blogs

When Cut met Clinton

Layeun is famous among the tsunami villages of Aceh.  Bill Clinton came here earlier this year and brought the media.  He called for new help to rebuild the lives of the fishing community whose homes disappeared beneath the waves during the tsunami.

By Fred Pearce

Swapping places with wild boar

Precisely 256 people were living in Gampong Baro on the day the tsunami hit.  Just under half of them died.  Just 24 bodies were found, while 97 are registered forever “missing”.  Their names and ages are all listed on a stone memorial in the heart of the village.

by Fred Pearce

Mangroves return amid the fish ponds

by Fred Pearce

Azhar, leader of Lham Ujong, is a proud man.  Proud of the pictures in his album of him shaking hands with dignitaries bringing aid money to the village.  Proud of his Olympic torch, which he helped take round Jakarta in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics of 2008 – a privilege he was nominated for by Wetlands International.  And proud especially of the trees planted in huge numbers round his village in the aftermath of the tsunami.

A Decade After Asian Tsunami, New Forests Protect the Coast

A Decade After Asian Tsunami,  New Forests Protect the Coast


[This article originally appeared at Yale Environment 360, a publication of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.]

The tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004 obliterated vast areas of Aceh province. But villagers there are using an innovative microcredit scheme to restore mangrove forests and other coastal ecosystems that will serve as a natural barrier against future killer waves and storms.
By Fred Pearce

BLOG: Is development stuck in a destructive rut?

Or can we dream of a new world where ecology, economy and society are re-connected?

By Jane Madgwick, Chief Executive Officer 

BLOG: Bottom up in Indonesia!

By Jaap van Thiel de Vries, Ecoshape

Last week, I visited Indonesia together with Femke Tonneijck from Wetlands International  to meet our partners that are involved in the development of a Building with Nature approach to solve the severe erosion along the muddy Northern coast of Central Java (Demak district). 

BLOG: Wetland friendly breakfast in Argentina

By Marta Andelman, Wetlands International Argentina -

“The natural flow of water in the Parana Delta is altering,” tells a local farmer. “We know this is caused by the increasing  amount of infrastructure for the conversion of the Parana Delta wetlands into soy plantations. There is evidence that as a result, communities are no longer protected during the regular floods that occur in the Delta.” He is eager to find solutions for this problem affecting the region as well as adjacent territories. 

BLOG: Living with the floods, not against them

By Susanna Tol

“Yes, we are illiterate sir, but we are engineers as far as our experience with water and rivers is concerned”, says Phushi Mahato, a villager in the Gosi Kandak floodplains in North-Bihar in India.

BLOG: RSPO at a Crossroad: moving beyond criticism

RSPO members are responsible for 60% of global palm oil production. With such a large and growing responsibility, the RSPO must push on to create a level playing field for sustainable palm oil, argues Marcel Silvius.

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.[1]

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?

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.

BLOG: Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (7)

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)

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’.

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.

 

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
 

BLOG: The art of augering in tropical peat

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: When green is blue

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: 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.

 

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (5)

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Bridges over troubled waters in Central Asia?

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Diary of a Wetlands International intern in Central Java

BLOG: 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.

 

BLOG: Room for the River as an antidote to Europe’s flood woes

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Mangrove-mud coasts; a muddy story (4)

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: New hope for water and life in the Senegal delta?

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Putting the carbon ahead of the drivers

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: The e-word

BLOG: The e-word

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

BLOG: Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 3)

BLOG: 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.

 

 

BLOG: Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 2)

BLOG: 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.
 

BLOG: Mangrove coasts: a muddy story (Part 1)

BLOG: 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.
 

BLOG: Waist Deep in Mud

BLOG: 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

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

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?

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

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

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

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’.

BLOG: From Bangkok to Doha: what can the UNFCCC do for wetlands?

BLOG: 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!

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!

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

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

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.

BLOG: Thinking outside the box by connecting the dots

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Your ears and eyes in the Inner Niger Delta

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Deal or No Deal for Peatlands in Durban

BLOG: 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.

BLOG: Ecosystem solutions to cope with Philippine flood disasters

BLOG: 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.