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Wetlands International: expanding the horizon of wetland conservation


Global NGO Wetlands International has further expanded its reach and impact on conservation, restoration and sustainable use of wetlands. For the fifth consecutive year it has grown in both financial and operational size. This concludes the newly published Annual Review 2008.

The achievements of the past year demonstrate the growing relevance and impact of the work of Wetlands International worldwide. As a result this science-based NGO has seen an increase in its presence and activity in all regions, with 21 offices mostly located in the global South, working with a large network of partners and local communities. 

Wetland restoration 

In Kalimantan, Borneo, around 60,000 hectares of severely degraded peatlands were re-wetted and 1,600 hectares of forest replanted, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions of some 230,000 tons in 2008. In Aceh, Indonesia, around 750,000 mangrove seedlings were planted by local communities as part of integrated plans to protect the coastal zones from climate change impacts and safeguard homes and local livelihoods.

Photo: awareness raising on coastal restoration in Indonesia (by Yus Noor).

Policies on wetlands 

Furthermore, Wetlands International intensified its collaboration with many partners on global policy issues of critical significance to wetlands. This led, for example, to improved standards of the European Union on biofuels, including specific safeguards for wetlands. In addition, due to an effective campaign and the support of a growing number of governments and NGOs, Wetlands International has put wetlands (and especially the huge carbon stores of peatlands) strongly on the agenda of the UNFCCC climate negotiations.

Improved conservation status

As a result of Wetlands International’s continuing scientific and technical support to governments, some of the worlds’greatest wetlands were granted improved conservation status in 2008, including the Ruoergai in China and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. This will lead to better protection and investment in conservation management for these areas.

Reflecting the need for inter-sectoral approaches, Wetlands International’s programmes resulted in hundreds of African government staff being trained on the links between poverty reduction and wetland management and steps were taken to help secure partnerships and finance for on-going capacity development of this kind.

Cost-effective strategy

Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International: “Wetlands have always been of great interest to naturalists, but now there is a growing realisation that restoring healthy wetland systems is a cost-effective strategy to combat poverty and the effects of climate change. Our expertise on how to integrate these approaches is more and more in demand.”


To find out more on Wetlands International’s global operations, download the Annual Review 2008.


For more information:

Alex Kaat

Communications Manager

Wetlands International
Tel: +31 (0)318 660912
Mobile: +31 (0)6 50601917


Wetlands International’s mission: to sustain and restore wetlands, their resources and biodiversity for future generations”.


About wetlands

Wetlands only cover 6% of the total world surface, but deliver ecosystem services to billions of people and form hotspots for biodiversity. They include marshes, shallow lakes, deltas, and peatlands.

All over the world wetlands face continuous threats. Depending on the type of wetland the threats vary: from converting a mangrove forest into shrimp farms to drainage and burning of peatlands for oil palm plantations.

The UN-milennium ecosystem assessment indicates wetlands as one of the most threatened ecosystems. According to the Ramsar Database 84% of Ramsar listed wetlands had been affected by ecological change by 1999.

Worldwide around 50% of wetlands are estimated to have disappeared since 1900. During the first half of the previous century, this mostly occurred in the northern temperate zones. However, since the 1950s, tropical and sub-tropical wetlands are the latest victims.

Go to 'Threatened wetland sites' for more information.

Press contact

Communications and Advocacy Department