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.
The Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz kicked off on World Wetlands Day to engage nature lovers in freshwater fish conservation. The Freshwater Fish Specialist Group (FFSG), of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Wetlands International, has joined forces with other international groups to introduce this new global initiative.
A new online Atlas of freshwater biodiversity presenting spatial information and species distribution patterns was launched today. The Atlas is an output of BioFresh, an EU-funded project supported by Wetlands International that is putting together the widely dispersed information about life in our rivers and lakes, to better understand, manage and protect our freshwaters for generations to come.
In the Malaysia Chronicle of 17 January 2014, Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) mentions that there is no credible scientific basis for companies to divest from palm oil plantations on peat soils. The article refers to the announcement of Wilmar about a month ago to undertake "no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation" in their palm oil trades. Wetlands International welcomes Wilmar’s decision and gives a brief recap in this article of the science base.
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.
Ede/Bogor. Wetlands International applauds the Indonesian court ruling which fined palm oil company PT Kallista Alam 114 billion Rupiah (approximately 7 million Euros) for illegally burning peat swamp forests in Tripa/Aceh.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
Ministers Meeting at global climate talks in Warsaw should heed the lessons of past disasters.
The following joint statement on the need for increased public adaptation financing was released today by The Nature Conservancy, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), BirdLife International and Wetlands International, at the United Nations global climate change conference now underway in Warsaw, Poland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Cambridge, UK. A new study maps out the amount of carbon stored by mangrove ecosystems in various parts of the world.
India's disaster preparedness has succeeded in dramatically reducing the loss of lives of cyclone Phailin last weekend. While the power of Phailin was a category stronger than the 1999 Odisha cyclone, India timely evacuated nearly a million people from the coastline.
International Day for Disaster Reduction
Today is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2013, a UN event to promote a global culture of disaster risk reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Wetlands International celebrates this day and highlights the critical role wise use and restoration of wetland ecosystems such as mangroves, river basins, marshes, and lakes can play in reducing the impacts of natural hazards like floods, droughts, storm surges and wind waves
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.
By Pieter van Eijk and Alizia Kamani
This September Wetlands International officially joined PEDRR, a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes which plays a vital role in steering the policy and practice in disaster risk reduction (DRR). Through this alliance, Wetlands International can effectively influence and make recommendations to the Hyogo Framework for Action and the UNISDR, the UN office which coordinates global activities on reducing the risk of disasters.
Vienna, Austria – As part of the European River Restoration Conference, five European river basins committed themselves to working together. The river basins include: the Arpa in Armenia, Irpen in Ukraine, Irwell in England, Orbigo in Spain, and Rhone in France. Under the facilitation of the European Centre for River Restoration, the five parties will develop and share their best practices and knowledge in order to stimulate larger scale river restoration.
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.
Vienna, Austria - Over 300 delegates gathered last week for the European River Restoration Conference. Leading policy makers, scientists and restoration practitioners shared experiences, identified the key future challenges and celebrated successes in improving the state of Europe’s rivers. The Rhine River was recognised with the 1st European Riverprize while finalists from more recent river initiatives in central and southern Europe were highly acclaimed. Distinguished keynote speakers including EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik were impressed by the growing body of knowledge and good practice examples that the European Centre of River Restoration and its partners brought together that is essential to support the implementation of many EU policy objectives.
Demak district, Indonesia. This week will see the start of the construction of 2 permeable structures to protect the severely eroding coastline of Timbul Sloko village in Northern Java.
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.
Bonn 29 August 2013 – The Waterbird Harvest Specialist Group (WHSG) affiliated to Wetlands International was re-launched on the 28th of August 2013 at a special session on waterbird management at the 31st Congress of the International Union of Game Biologists which took place in Brussels, Belgium on the 27 – 29 August 2013.
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.
Wetlands International CEO Jane Madgwick is participating in a high-level panel on water cooperation for ecosystems at the International Conference on Water Cooperation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. As part of the International Year of Water Cooperation, we are attending to highlight the urgent need to safeguard and restore wetland ecosystems as a key strategy to address water security challenges.
- 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.
As part of TEEB for Water and Wetlands
, Ritesh Kumar, the Conservation Programme Manager of Wetlands International, South Asia recently shared his views on how wetlands provide products that satisfy the livelihoods of many communities and therefore help to alleviate poverty. He argues for development polices and strategies that recognise this value. Read the interview
by Anand Chandrasekhar.
A new report by The Nature Conservancy and Wetlands International shows that mangroves can adapt to rising sea levels by building up soils in some locations, allaying fears that mangroves may be lost as sea levels rise. This is important because mangroves provide risk reduction services against coastal hazards such as waves and storm surges.
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.
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.
Sumatra, Indonesia. The health and climate impacts of large peatland and forest fires in Sumatra provide yet another harrowing reminder of the unsustainability of palm oil and pulp wood plantations on peat.
Saint Louis, Senegal - Wetlands International is joining forces with the Senegal River Basin Authority to identify the many important services that wetlands provide to people and nature in the Senegal River Basin. In order to meet the growing water needs in the increasingly arid Sahel of West Africa, this partnership will identify how natural ‘green’ infrastructure wetlands including seasonal floodplains, swamps and lakes can be used to support more sustainable livelihoods for people in the four countries of the basin (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal) while adapting to climate change and protecting nature.
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.
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.
Opportunities for climate change mitigation through peatland rehabilitation and lessons learned for future agreements under the UNFCCC were discussed at a side event during the Bonn climate negotiations.
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
Wetlands International warmly welcomes the extension of Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions signed on the 13th May by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The extension, however, does not address the shortcomings of the previous moratorium.
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.
A newly published study shows that three species of waterbirds (tufted duck, goosander and goldeneye) are shifting their wintering grounds northwards along the North-West Europe flyway in response to rising temperatures. Rising temperatures due to climate change and shifting ranges for wintering waterbirds have profound implications for the conservation of site networks along the flyways and highlights the importance of adaptive management approaches.
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.
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.
March 22, 2013: On World Water Day 2013, water issues are more critical than ever, and affect everyone around the globe. The UN has proclaimed 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation, and Wetlands International is doing its part to promote the role of wetland ecosystems as natural water infrastructure.