IWMI’s new publication Wetlands and People was released to coincide with World Wetlands Day today, Sunday 2 February. In this report, researchers give many examples of the value of wetlands to rural poor communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and discuss ways to manage them sustainably. Several wetlands in Sri Lanka – Negombo, Kalametiya, Bundala and Embilikala lagoons, are also highlighted.

Small-scale sustainable fishing by canoe

Small-scale sustainable fishing by canoe has been practiced for generations. Here father and son drag their canoe ashore after a day’s fishing in Mundal lagoon.
Photo: Sanjiv de Silva

Wetlands are important environments for people, wildlife and plants as they provide freshwater, food and services, such as medicines and fuel tourism, and contribute to the livelihoods of millions of the world’s poor. But if they are not exploited sustainably, the people and the environment suffer. Wetlands and People encourages a ‘people-centred approach to managing wetlands and supports the move away from their absolute protection to an approach that integrates conservation with development.

“Outright protection of wetlands is incompatible with farming and would threaten the livelihoods of millions of people, and we’ve seen these approaches fail in the past,” said Matthew McCartney, a hydrologist at IWMI, and a contributor to the book, Wetlands and people. “But there are agricultural practices that can support and sustain healthy wetlands, and vice versa. Working with local communities will help us find the best solutions.”

Fisherman beats the water to chase fish into nets at the Palatupana lagoon. This form of fishing is sustainable because it is practiced on a small scale.  Photo: Sanjiv De Silva

Fisherman beats the water to chase fish into nets at the Palatupana lagoon. This form of fishing is sustainable because it is practiced on a small scale.
Photo: Sanjiv de Silva

The Ramsar Convention

The destruction of wetlands has led to several initiatives to protect and restore them. The Ramsar Convention is perhaps the most significant of these. Established in 1971 in Iran, Many countries around are signatories to the Convention. Signatories are obliged to designate at least one wetland in their country as protected and are obliged to promote the wise use of all the wetlands in their territory. Sri Lanka too, is a signatory and six wetlands in the country have also been designated by the Ramsar convention as wetlands of international importance: Annaiwilundawa tanks sanctuary. In Sri Lanka’s Northwestern Province, the Bundala sanctuary and Maduganga located in the South, Kumana and Wilpattu wetlands locate in national parks and the Vankalai Sanctuary in the Mannar district.

 

 

Download your free copies of the following publications: