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PROTECT THE LIFE FORMS IN THE MARSHES
- DOCUMENT

National wetland policy is a key feature envisaged in the implementation of the wise use concept of the Ramsar Convention. However, defining, developing and implementing national policies that promote wetland conservation and management remains an elusive goal for many contracting parties of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). To assist these interests, the authors have responded to recommendation 6.9 adopted by the 6th Conference of the Contracting Parties in March 1996, in Brisbane, Australia. This recommendation called for cooperation by contracting parties, the Ramsar Bureau and other contributors to prepare a “framework report” on national wetland policies.

The following guidelines for the development and implementation of national wetland policies have been prepared by a team of contributors with government or non-governmental work experience and expertise in wetland policy development...

The authors recognize that some of the language and terms used in this document draws mainly on the governmental system of the British Commonwealth, the national experience of several of the authors. It is hoped readers experienced with other systems of government can “read between the lines” and substitute the needed terms and words as appropriate....

These guidelines may prove most useful to countries making or considering a commitment to new formulations of national policy or strategies on wetlands...Any of these topics however may also be of interest in countries with well-established approaches to these matters. Some of the topics examined here may not yet be part of such approaches or, through this synthesis of international experience, may shed extra light on how these particular efforts look in the wider context...

It is hoped that these guidelines will provide a reference against which all Ramsar contracting parties will feel encouraged to review their nation’s policies and strategies at the national level, so that the benefits and experience sharing inherent to the Ramsar convention can be maximized...

Wetlands have been identified as one of the key life support systems on this planet in concert with agricultural lands and forests. This has been a key theme in the evolving global support and political commitment for sustainable development and environmental conservation as articulated in the Ramsar Convention’s strategic plan 1997-2002, the World Conservation Strategy, Caring for the Earth, the report of the Brundtland Commission, and Agenda 21. The role of wetlands has emerged as a key element in the delivery of inland freshwater and coastal ecosystem conservation through the Convention on Biological Diversity. The importance of our wetlands goes beyond their status as the habitat of many endangered plant and animal species. They are a vital element of national and global ecosystems and economies.

The seriousness of the continuing loss of wetlands demands a new approach to wetland management. A major portion of the wetland area in settled areas has been converted from its natural state to support alternative land uses including agriculture, urbanization, industry, and recreational pursuits. Wetlands have also been degraded by land use practices that have resulted in vegetation destruction, nutrient and toxin loading, sedimentation, turbidity, and altered flow regimes. Dredging, intensive aquaculture, logging and acid rain have also affected the natural balance of wetlands.

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