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Managing better

Fostering better wetland management after acquisition or retention: 23. Non-governmental organizations, local communities, private landowners, and government agencies often have difficulty managing wetlands they have acquired or retained for conservation purposes. Property taxes and personnel costs are often high, and managers are not familiar with methods to raise revenue from the use of wetlands in an ecologically sensitive manner...The national wetland policy is an opportunity to address these factors and find solutions.

Better knowledge and its application

24. There is limited information about the status, ecological functioning, and values... of wetlands. Progress has been made in many nations in classifying and developing inventories of wetlands but, globally, the task is far from complete. Greater effort has to be made to set goals for numbers and kinds of wetlands needed. The national wetland policy can assist in setting information priorities and a strategy to acquire and utilize better information ... for wetland management.

25. Wetlands conversion rates and the economic value of wetlands have not been adequately quantified. The economic, social and ecological costs and benefits of wetland conversion are as yet poorly understood, but the evidence is mounting that wetlands are economically, as well as ecologically and socially, important.

Existing knowledge about wetlands is not well distributed and is not effectively used in influencing land use decisions. While gaps in knowledge about wetlands remain an important obstacle, conservation actions must proceed without waiting for ...results from research...

26. In many nations where economic development remains difficult, or in nations where economies are now in transition, existing social and political obstacles to environmental programmes are substantial. Wetland conservation will continue to be a low priority as the links to economic well-being and sustainable water and natural resource uses remain unclear. In countries torn by natural disasters and civil or international border conflicts, the environmental needs of these nations have understandably remained of low priority for government action.

Education directed to the general public, decision-makers, landowners and the private sector

27. Education programmes about wetlands are not strongly supported, inconsistent and have not stressed the importance of stewardship and wise use of natural resources. In many examples at a national or sub-national level, it has been demonstrated that the public is more supportive of conservation programmes if they are better informed about wetlands. This evolves through public awareness initiatives that develop a better understanding of the values, functions and benefits of wetlands and the consequences of continuing wetland loss.

28. Landowners need to know how to improve management of their renewable natural resources... Decision-makers need to learn the importance of ...the close relationship between conservation and sustainable economic development, and how to apply ecological understanding to resource planning and management. Education is an interactive process: political leaders, government officials, scientists, landowners, and wetland users can all learn much from each other about wetlands...conservation. Equally, construction and tourism development activities, for example, while potentially adding to the pressures facing wetlands, may also offer opportunities to engage important stakeholders in approaches which promote sustainable management.

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