A green, low carbon, energy efficient and socially inclusive economy offers a way to remedy the current environmental, social and economic crisis facing the global community. Wetlands and the services they provide will have a crucial role to play as the world transitions to a green economy.
Wetlands: vital for life on earth or there for the taking?
Wetlands are being destroyed for short term economic and political gains. In Southeast Asia, peatlands and their tropical forests are being cleared and drained to make way for palm oil and pulpwood plantations or for agriculture. In South America soy bean cultivation is increasing at an alarming rate, directly and indirectly impacting on wetlands. In Africa, wetlands that provide a vital lifeline in the desert for both people and nature are being threatened by dams. Meanwhile, mangroves are being cleared in the Asia Pacific region to make way for shrimp production.
Industries that extract the earth’s raw materials, such as oil and gas, are also developing activities that impact wetlands around the world.
Biofuels from palm oil and soy are seen by governments as a green alternative to oil and gas, but clearing land for plantations emits significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
Valuing wetlands over short-term gains
While the immediate economic benefits of development are clear, these short-term gains are often outweighed in the long run by the detrimental impacts of development on the landscape, environment, biodiversity and society. However, the loss of wetlands tends to be overlooked in the decision making process. This is partly due to a lack of information and awareness and partly to a decision process which involves, in many cases, only a few powerful interest groups.
We mobilise our international network of offices and partners to campaign against the loss of wetlands, whilst working together with local communities to ensure their future. Where possible, we work in active collaboration with companies to influence their practices.
We advocate for sustainable palm oil, biofuel and soy production that takes into account wetlands. We also advocate for policies that value wetlands, both directly and by strengthening civil society, to ensure that governments and industry are made accountable in the long run.
Our position is backed up by a sound, scientific knowledge base. By understanding the values and services wetlands offer, we can inform and evaluate proposed development schemes and government policies and provide best practice and recommendations for industries.