My chapter, “Financial Incentives for Wetland Protection and Restoration” in The Wetland Book I: Structure and Function, Management and Methods (Springer) is now available. This resource is aimed at supporting the trans- and multidisciplinary research and practice inherent to this field. The conservation and sustainable use of wetlands stem from the international treaty known as the Ramsar Convention and also known as the Convention on Wetlands. The treaty itself is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, where the Convention was signed in 1971. The book undertaking was led by Ramsar’s Max Finlayson and Nick Davidson, and several members of the Society of Wetland Scientists. I am excited to have been a part of this effort. While the book is available in print, it is meant to be used more so as an online reference and the first port of call on key concepts in wetlands science and management. Covering only 6% of the earth’s surface, wetlands carry importance beyond their physical boundaries. “[Wetlands] are not just vital ecosystems in their own right, but they also influence the health of the adjacent ecosystems to which they are linked on the landscape.” (Methods in Biogeochemistry of Wetlands). For example, coastal wetlands can supply critical protection against incoming hurricane storm surges.
Across the world, wetland protection policies lack specific, comprehensive national wetland laws. Relying on laws intended for other purposes, federal statutes regulating or protecting wetlands have evolved over the years. I explore legal mechanisms to incentivize the protection and restoration of wetlands.
Wetlands are dynamic areas, open to influence from natural and human factors. In order to maintain the way that wetlands function, their biological diversity, and the benefits that they provide to human society, it is essential to understand their management requirements. Management can take many forms. Human history is littered with examples of unsustainable wetland management. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century attempts have been made to reconcile the potentially conflicting needs of a multitude of threats to wetlands including urbanization, pollution and intensive agriculture and the wider ecosystem services provided by the residual wetland areas. More sustainable wetland management techniques are slowly being introduced to reverse wetland loss and degradation and to optimize benefits for human society.