Written by  //  July 25, 2008  //  Sustainable Development  //  1 Comment

See also Inland Waters Biodiversity and The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the University of Guelph Canada’s Aquatic Environments

Photo of the Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar site, around Goolwa.

July 25
Rising demands threaten wetlands
The recent surge in demand for food and biofuel has increased the risks facing the world’s wetlands, warn scientists.
A declaration by 700 scientists said the habitats faced a growing risk of being converted into farmland.
June 30
Kenya plants sugarcane; America uproots it
(The Economist) LAST week Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, announced the purchase of almost 300 square miles of land in the middle of the Everglades from a sugar producer. Rather than building on it, Florida will allow the land to revert into its natural state.
On the other side of the world, the government of Kenya said it plans to do exactly the opposite: 80 square miles of the Tana river delta will be dug up by a private company that will grow sugarcane to be turned into biofuel. The Tana delta, which lies 120 miles north of the coastal city of Mombasa and drains Kenya’s longest river, is a mix of savannah, mangrove swamps, forest and beaches. Like the Everglades, this wetland area has unique wildlife; it sustains lions, hippos, reptiles, primates, rare sharks and 345 bird species, as well as thousands of farmers and fishermen. It provides the only dry-season grazing for hundreds of miles around.
The wetlands that Florida plans to preserve will not only provide a natural buffer against hurricanes, they will also help provide fresh water to Florida’s growing population. It will also act as a natural filtering system, eliminating the need to pump contaminated agricultural runoff into the Everglades’ Lake Okeechobee.
In Kenya, the Mumias Sugar company boasts about the jobs its project will create and the infrastructure it will improve. Mumias says environmental damage will be limited and income will reach £1.25m ($2.49m) over 20 years.
But two environmental NGOs, Nature Kenya and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, estimate revenue from fishing, farming and tourism will provide £30m over the same period, and they worry that Mumias’s project will cause “an ecological and social disaster”. They worry about pollution from farming and heavy drainage of the delta. Their reports say that Mumias’s projections greatly overstate the potential profit, and ignore fees for the use of water. They add that the loss of grazing land will have a huge impact on livelihoods locally, and will result in overuse and increased degradation of remaining grazing lands.
10 April 2008
New Rules on Saving Wetlands Push the Limits of the Science
In one of the most significant wetlands regulations in 2 decades, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spelled out what developers must do to mitigate damage from their construction projects. The new regulations are meant to make mitigation efforts more accountable, successful, and scientific. But some researchers and environmentalists believe that the rule isn’t strict enough, and that too little is known about how to restore some of these fragile ecosystems, for the rule to work as intended. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush announced a policy of no net loss of wetlands. Mitigation was a major tool to achieve the goal… In many places, scientists just don’t know enough about the exact functions of particular wetlands and how to prioritize their restoration. More
April 1
Post-Katrina project shines spotlight on wetlands
(USA Today) As the wetlands disappeared, the natural barrier to tidal surge slowly eroded so much that when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita came, there was nothing to slow the 10- to 20-foot surge that contributed to the devastation of New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.
March 31
New Rule Lets Builders ‘Bank’ Efforts to Restore Wetlands
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration announced requirements on Monday to encourage builders to compensate for destroying wetlands or streams by paying to restore or create wetlands elsewhere.
Environmentalists worried that the policy could encourage wetlands destruction and overall loss.
“There’s nothing in here that says we’re going to improve mitigation,” Julie Sibbing, a wetlands expert at the National Wildlife Federation, said. “It’s just going to be easier and cheaper. And the cheaper it is to mitigate, the more economic it is to buy land that has wetlands on it and destroy them.”
Ms. Sibbing said that mitigation banking was already being used, but that the new rule would make it difficult to argue that a developer should be required to provide on-site preservation.
A wetland often is important to a local ecosystem, and “it doesn’t help to move it 100 miles away,” Ms. Sibbing said.
With the new rule, the business of creating alternative wetlands is likely to prosper. George Howard, who owns a business in that field near Raleigh, N.C., said “the vast amount” of alternative wetlands involved not creating wetlands, but restoring lost wetlands.
The environmental agency [EPA] and the corps [of engineers] said the rules would increase public participation.
30 March
The politics of Katrina recovery
With the departure of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards from the presidential race, a vacuum exists over who will be the Katrina candidate.
Like Clinton, [Obama] pledges to support the restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands, noting that every four miles of wetlands can absorb about a foot of a hurricane’s storm surge.

Louisiana’s Wetlands are the end result of America’s intricate water basin system.
41% of the continental U.S. drains into the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico.
That includes 31 states & 2 Canadian provinces, affecting over two-thirds of the country directly and indirectly.
Total area drained 1.2 million square miles including 160 million tons of sediment that should be building the coast of Louisiana, instead is being washed out into the Gulf.

One Comment on "Wetlands"

  1. saarath January 30, 2009 at 4:40 am ·

    i love wet lands

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