50 per cent of Wetlands lost globally in last one century: UN
RAMESH PRASAD BHUSHAL
HYDERABAD (INDIA), Oct 17: The most important Ecosystem in the Earth- the Wetlands, are depleting so rapidly that half of them have disappeared from the earth in last one century, according to the United Nations report launched today in Hyderabad, India.
"In last one century, the world lost an estimated 50 per cent of its wetlands, while recent coastal wetland loss in some places, notably East Asia, has been up to 1.6 per cent a year," said the report ´The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands´
The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.
The wetlands were lost mainly due to factors such as intensive agricultural production, unsustainable water extraction for domestic and industrial use, urbanization, infrastructure development and pollution, the report said.
Nepal boasts of nine wetlands of international importance recognized by Ramsar Convention and is also the signatory of the convention. "Countries like Nepal which is poor may have to face more threats as the urbanisation is rapid and the country has other more pressing priorities," Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General of Ramsar Convention Secretariat told Republica.
But experts said governments all over the world were slowly giving recognition to wetlands and their importance which is appreciable. "It´s not enough. The key role that rapidly diminishing wetlands play in supporting human life and biodiversity needs to be recognized more and integrated into decision making as a vital component of the transition to a resource efficient, sustainable world economy," added Davidson.
According to the report, water security is widely regarded as one of the key natural resource challenges currently facing the world, and human drivers of ecosystem change including destructive extractive industries, unsustainable agriculture and poorly managed urban expansion are posing threat to global freshwater biodiversity and water security for eighty percent of the world´s population.
"Policies and decisions often do not take into account the many services that wetlands provide-thus leading to the rapid degradation and loss of wetlands globally, said UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
According to the Ramsar Convention, Inland wetlands cover at least 9.5 million square kilometers (about 6.5 per cent of the Earths land surface). "If we undervalue wetlands in our decisions for economic growth, we do at our increasing peril for people´s livelihoods and the world´s economies, added Davidson.