Wetland Resources: Status, Trends, Ecosystem Services, and Restorability

by Joy B. Zedler; Suzanne Kercher

Jan 1, 2005
Estimates of global wetland area range from 5.3 to 12.8 million km2. About half the global wetland area has been lost, but an international treaty (the 1971 Ramsar Convention) has helped 144 nations protect the most significant remaining wetlands. Because most nations lack wetland inventories, changes in the quantity and quality of the world's wetlands cannot be tracked adequately. Despite the likelihood that remaining wetlands occupy less than 9% of the earth's land area, they contribute more to annually renewable ecosystem services than their small area implies. Biodiversity support, water quality improvement, flood abatement, and carbon sequestration are key functions that are impaired when wetlands are lost or degraded. Restoration techniques are improving, although the recovery of lost biodiversity is challenged by invasive species, which thrive under disturbance and displace natives. Not all damages to wetlands are reversible, but it is not always clear how much can be retained through restoration. Hence, we recommend adaptive approaches in which alternative techniques are tested at large scales in actual restoration sites.
Wetland Resources: Status, Trends, Ecosystem Services, and Restorability


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