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By Extracts from the 7th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, San Jose, May 1999 To be concluded TO BE CONCLUDED
  • Published 19.12.02

The disruption of wetland functions has a high cost — economically, socially and ecologically. The disturbance of their natural balance can destroy critical gene pools required for medical and agricultural purposes, it can affect their ability to naturally improve water quality and it can ruin their use for educational and recreational purposes...The obstacles and possible solutions to this issue of quantitative and qualitative loss of wetlands are outlined below.

...Wetland conservation is vital to achieving the objectives of biodiversity conservation described in international treaties and their related international obligations. Wetlands play a significant role in delivery of these objectives as can be exemplified in the case of the elements of the world conservation strategy: maintenance of essential ecological processes and life-support systems.

Wetlands perform these functions in various ways; some maintain and improve water quality, some regulate flows to reduce flooding and may augment late summer stream flows, and some recharge groundwater supply. Wetlands are important as production and staging areas for migratory birds, as spawning and nursery grounds for fish, and as a habitat for a great many invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and plants.

Preservation of genetic diversity: Wetlands play an essential role in maintaining wildlife populations, providing key habitat for diverse fauna and flora. Wetlands are home to about one third of the wildlife species that have been identified as endangered, threatened or rare.

Sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems: Many local and provincial (state)/territorial economies rely directly on wetland resources such as fish and wildlife, plant products and wood. Renewable resources associated with wetlands are central to the traditional subsistence lifestyle of a nation’s aboriginal and indigenous peoples. Wetlands also support substantial tourism and recreational opportunities...

Meeting the challenge of conserving wetlands of international and national significance requires comprehensive national policies...Such policy for wetlands can be valuable as countries seek to address the management and habitat requirements for wildlife and other biological resources as well as for human needs for current and future generations.

Within the text of the Ramsar Convention adopted in 1971, Article 3.1 establishes that “the Contracting Parties shall formulate and implement their planning so as to promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the List [of Wetlands of International Importance] and, as far as possible, the wise use of wetlands in their territory.” One of the recommended actions that Contracting Parties the formulation of national policies that promote wetland conservation. In a number of national examples completed to date, this has been observed to sometimes involve a lengthy and complex process. Political, interjurisdictional, institutional, legal and financial constraints affect the formulation of such policies, in addition to social and economic factors that continue to contribute to wetland loss while the policy process is underway.