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Wetlands key to biodiversity

Posted on 19 Nov 2018

Wetland loss is driving extinctions of animal and plant species, and contributing to the world’s imminent failure to reach its 2020 global biodiversity targets: But this could be reversed by creating new wetlands.

That’s the message from WWT and other global NGOs, to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) worldwide meeting now underway in Egypt to map a way forward beyond 2020.

Wetlands provide fresh water for most forms of life. Yet they are disappearing three times faster than forests, with a third of the world’s wetlands being destroyed inside the last 50 years.

WWT and five other NGOs are global advisers to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, whose Secretary-General delivered their message to the CBD (IOP statement post-COP13 FINAL) via a speech to its meeting in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh. She said the CBD needs to reflect the priorities of all biodiversity-related conventions – which in the case of Ramsar means repairing and creating new wetlands to support life.

WWT Director of Conservation James Robinson said:

Every species of animal and plant depends on the services provided by other species to survive. The more species we can save, the healthier the world will be.

But we know first hand at WWT that saving individual species by themselves is not enough. You have to fix their environment and support all the species that co-exist.

So turning the current massive wetland losses into massive gains, by protecting existing wetlands, repairing damage and building new ones, could be our best chance post-2020 to slow the alarming rate of species extinction.

WWT and its partners hope their message will sink in at Sharm El Sheikh where the UN CBD meeting was opened by the President of Egypt. More than 8,000 delegates from countries around the world, including the UK, are attending to limit losses before the 2020 deadline for biodiversity targets (which will be missed) and to plan a roadmap towards the next deadline in 2030.

The CBD is working towards a 2050 Vision of “living in harmony with nature”. It has so far helped governments agree to protect 15 per cent of the world’s land and six per cent of its oceans. But the efforts are still not slowing the rate of species extinction, with the CBD’s Executive Secretary warning of a forthcoming “irreversible tipping point”.