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Our History

Wetlands International and its predecessors have worked to protect wetlands since 1937. Back then we were known as the International Wildfowl Inquiry. Our work began as part of the British Section of the International Committee of Bird Preservation, with a focus on protecting waterbirds.

In 1954, our name became International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB) and our scope expanded to include the protection of wetland areas. We were based at the Museum of Natural History in London, followed by the Tour du Valat in the Camargue (France) until 1968, and then the Wildfowl Trust in Slimbridge (UK) until 1995.

Organisations with similar objectives emerged in Asia and the Americas: the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB) was initiated as INTERWADER in 1983, and Wetlands for the Americas (WA) formed in 1989. These three organisations started to work closely together in 1991.

This working relationship evolved into a single global organisation which adopted the name Wetlands International and established its headquarters in the Netherlands in 1996.