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Wetlands toolkit could help deliver WFD

International research led by the University of Essex could help the UK better plan its wetland management and the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), according to the researchers. The culmination of the five-year project,to help preserve some of the world's most valuable ecosystems, has been the development of an integrated action planning toolkit on wetland conservation and management.

Boy on a boat in the wetlands of VietnamBoy on a boat in the wetlands of Vietnam

Launched on November 19 at events in China, India and Vietnam, the Wetland Resources Action Planning (WRAP) toolkit offers researchers, technical planners and policymakers a systematic approach to conserve and to sustainably manage wetland ecosystems and biodiversity.

Wetlands cover a wide spectrum of environments − from areas of marsh and fen to reservoirs and mountain lakes − and the toolkit provides a suite of methods and practices, together with insights from lessons learned, to better inform potential users about the opportunities and limitations to adopting such an approach. Rather than offering a prescriptive approach to protecting the biodiversity of these areas, WRAP offers ideas and principles which help formulate integrated action plans to promote biodiversity conservation through sustainable use of any of these wetland types, irrespective of site scale or location.

The researchers hope that local communities can embrace the principles of the toolkit to develop their own bespoke solutions to protect their ecosystems. Biodiversity in the world’s ecosystems is declining at an alarming rate due to increased human activities.

This loss of biodiversity has a significant, detrimental effect upon the state of the natural environment upon which human communities depend. When undertaking an assessment of ecosystem services, the WRAP toolkit will help users consider the people who directly depend on the ecosystem for their livelihoods alongside preserving their socio-cultural heritage.

The tools have been developed and tested over five years at sites in China, India and Vietnam through the Highland Aquatic Resources Conservation & Sustainable Development (HighARCS) project. This major initiative focused on highlands in Asia as they often harbour endemic species not found elsewhere or species threatened with extinction globally, such as the marbled eel in China and the golden mahseer and snow trout in India.

Closer to home, Stuart Bunting, coordinator of the HighARCS project, from the Essex Sustainability Institute and School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex, said the toolkit was a valuable resource for policymakers.

“In the context of the UK and Europe, the WRAP toolkit could make a significant contribution to better planning and coordinating the management of wetlands, catchments and coastal zones in line with requirements established under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Water Framework and Marine Strategy Framework Directives,” explained Dr Bunting. “Integrated action planning could assist wetland managers, and, in particular, those responsible for nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in reconciling biodiversity conservation with continued access by the public and other user groups."

The integrated action planning approach devised in the HighARCS project cuts across disciplines and sectors, builds cooperation in the field and develops new forms of partnership with poor communities. Research teams at field sites worked in collaboration with local communities and other stakeholder groups as part of the project.

Click here to access the WRAP tool kit. 

* HighARCS, was funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Environment theme, and brought together the following organisations:
  • Essex Sustainability Institute & School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK (Lead Coordinator)
  • Center for the Development of Human Initiatives, India
  • Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal, India
  • Research Institute for Aquaculture No1, BacNinh, Vietnam
  • Centre for Environmental Management and Participatory Development, West Bengal, India International Union for Conservation of Nature, Species Programme, Cambridge, UK
  • Department of Environmental, Social & Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Denmark
  • FishBase Information and Research Group, Philippines
  • South China Agricultural University, China
  • Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, Scotland.

Author: Natasha Wiseman, Water & Wastewater Treatment Find on Google+
Topic: Drinking water quality
Tags: wetlands , reservoirs , biodiversity , planning , China , India , Water Framework Directive

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