Rising demand for energy threatens world’s wetlandsJuly 25th, 2008 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, July 25 (IANS) Critical food shortages and growing demand for bio-fuels prompted by rising fuel prices present the biggest threat to the preservation of wetlands worldwide. Protecting wetlands is vital for preservation of local water supplies, bio-diversity, which also trap and store greenhouse gases, according to 700 leading world experts at the conclusion of a week-long meeting in Cuiaba, Brazil.
“If we don’t plan and invest properly now, the cost to recreate artificially the services wetlands provide will dwarf the cost of preserving and protecting them in the first place,” said conference co-chairman Paulo Teixeira.
He is the co-ordinator of the Cuiaba-based Pantanal Regional Environmental Programme, a joint effort of the United Nations University and Brazil’s Federal University of Mato Grasso (UFMT), which hosted the event.
The experts issued the Cuiaba Declaration (appended) Friday, the final day of the 8th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference, convened on the northern edge of the world’s largest tropical wetland, the Pantanal.
In their statement, the delegates from 28 nations lamented “inadequate national development policies, lack of implementation of existing laws, and the lack of long-term land use planning that negatively affect wetlands on public and private property”.
They warned against creating energy and food croplands at the expense of natural vegetation and of carelessly allowing agriculture to encroach on wetlands causing damage through sediment, fertilizer and pesticide pollution.
Wetlands include marshes, tidal marshes, peat bogs, swamps, river deltas, mangroves, tundra, lagoons and river flood plains. Wetlands are, however, under assault due to agriculture, grazing, aquaculture, dams, waste disposal, invasive species and other problems caused by human activity.