Advocating for wetland conservation and management

Prof Wang Yanfeng, independent board member, International Centre for Integrated Moun-tain Development, vice president of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), China officially opening the session
Photo/Credit: Dr Nakul Chettri, ICIMOD

Over 70 experts, policy makers, scientists & academia gathered in Dali, China to contribute to improved the management of wetland resources in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

The symposium hosted by ICIMOD highlighted some key issues related to wetlands.  Attendees emphasised the importance of science, policy and practice, the inclusion of community voices and the lack of research for basic adaptive methods in wetlands.

During the technical session, Dr Eklabya Sharma, director, programme operations at  ICIMOD said satellite transmitters and satellite maps were being used for tracking migratory birds since, birds are the indicator of wetland health. ‘The efforts have been made to share information on wetlands and revive the thinking of Himalayan Wetland Initiative’, said Dr Sharma. 

In the technical session, Dr Archana Chatterjee, national coordinator, Mangroves for the Future, IUCN, India suggested representatives from all countries come together with a standard policy of wetlands and customise as needed. Participants discussed the need for wetland policies and its institutional setup along with transboundary cooperation through regional initiatives. 

In her presentation, Ms Zhang Xiaohong, senior researcher, Wetland International China suggested mainstreaming the wetland ecosystem and biodiversity valuation into policy making and  enhancing the linkages between ecosystem services with a green economy.

Participants advocated for conservation and wetland management actions needed for sustainable livelihoods:

  • Wetlands research from Chinese scientists needs to be translated into English for globali-sation
  • Community livelihoods & tools for mitigating climate change are equally important in disaster reduction
  • Continued focus on water quality control
  • Continued transfer of technology and knowledge
  • Long term impact analysis monitoring 
  • Discovery of drivers of climate change
  • Importance of stock assessment for commercial commodity
  • Incorporating entrance fee to benefit wetland conservation
  • Institutionalisation of long term ecological and socio-economic monitoring

Pointing out the global changing scenarios, ICIMOD’s theme leader for Ecosystem Services, Prof Dr Wu Ning emphasised the need for qualitative data and close monitoring. Data and in-formation generating is the first task of scientific research despite market and intervention failure. Ning said the symposium was the start point for future cooperation.

Researchers agreed integrated watershed management, regular environmental auditing,  including politicians on the board, and identified landscape research coordination using the same methodology are the most critical directions for future research.