TEEB report highlights the high value of wetlands

Posted: Wednesday 20th February 2013

A new report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), co-authored by Wetlands International, emphasises the enormous economic value of wetlands.

TEEB For Water and Wetlands highlights the key role played by wetlands as natural infrastructure and the multitude of enormously productive services they provide around the world. The continued loss of wetlands illustrates the need for improved policy making and business decision making that accounts for their true value.

The report, launched on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, summarises evidence of the crucial role played by wetlands in securing water availability and quality, in mitigating climate change, in supporting human health and livelihoods, and in contributing to local development and poverty eradication.

The overall estimated value of the ecosystem services provided by both inland and coastal wetlands typically exceeds that of other ecosystems. The authors of the report explain that this is because water is a provisioning ecosystem service in itself, but it is also necessary for all other ecosystem provisioning services (such as food, fibre and timber) and most regulating ecosystem services (such as water purification and flood protection).

Nevertheless, wetlands are being lost at a rapid pace. Currently, governments and businesses often do not sufficiently take into account these values and services. Improved policies, decision making and business commitment and investment are needed for the conservation, restoration and wise use of wetland ecosystems.

It is estimated that between 1900 and 2003 the world lost 50% of its wetlands. Europe alone lost around 60%. While some progress has been made in recent years, this downward trend is far from being reversed.

The loss of highly biodiverse wetland habitat has inevitably led to the decline and loss of several species, but it has also led to economic and social impacts, for instance due to the reduced capacity of wetland ecosystems to act as buffers against natural hazards such as floods or storms.

Maintaining wetlands as natural infrastructure can contribute to achieving a variety of economic, environmental and social objectives, often in a more cost-efficient manner when compared to manmade infrastructure solutions. The authors therefore advise action at all levels and by all stakeholders to conserve, restore and wisely use wetlands.

The report, produced by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and Wetlands International, can be found here.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is an international initiative to draw attention to the benefits of biodiversity. It focuses on the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and the benefits of action addressing these pressures. The TEEB initiative has brought together over five hundred authors and reviewers from across the continents in the fields of science, economics and policy. www.teebweb.org

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