© Dimitris Poursanidis.
‘Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur’ – a friend in need is a friend indeedThis moment in time has seen us move from the somewhat more relaxed term ‘climate change’ to the much more urgent declaration of #ClimateCrisis or #ClimateEmergency – both hashtags now trending significantly on various social media platforms. Amidst the panic, we’re looking for answers. And one ecosystem many take for granted, right in front of us, has long offered relatively straightforward solutions, based in their very nature, to what we face: wetlands offer holistic contributions to addressing the planetary crises through their various intrinsic functions and attributes – what scientists, and increasingly much of the concerned public, are now calling Nature-based Solutions, or NbS in our acronym-crazed world!
© Dimitris Poursanidis.
So why do wetlands represent such an important part of our defences against climate change?
Science tells us that the world’s wetlands currently make up for 40% of the carbon stored, reducing the level of these greenhouse gases which fuel excessive global warming. If wetlands are destroyed this carbon is released into the atmosphere and accelerates making the planet hotter – by the same token restoring wetlands helps sink more carbon, sequestering it safely outside of our atmosphere.
We have all witnessed the increased frequency of dramatic weather or what we call extreme weather events. Wetlands help our coastal communities cope with excessive water from the seas and skies which can cause flood damage and soil erosion while stocking water like a sponge for periods of drought.
With the inevitable rising of the sea, wetlands offer an effective buffer protecting coastal communities from the encroaching salt water, waves and wind which threaten the water they drink, and the land and lagoons they farm and fish. If they’re healthy, and left in a natural state, they help to naturally reduce these risks.
With climate change reducing the quantity and quality of the water we drink, already menaced by pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture, wetlands help filter, clean and store water. Given the Mediterranean’s increasing vulnerability to water shortages, this will play a powerful role in preserving what water we have. Wetlands-based fishing, agriculture and aquaculture, properly managed to be sustainable, can also play a role in low carbon nutrition reducing net emissions so aggravated by more conventional intensive agriculture.
This web of connections between climate risks and the inherent capacity of wetlands to mitigate them is largely unknown to the public. As Eylül Dizdaroğlu of WWF Turkey sees it,
“[There are] never-ending contradictions of traditional lifestyles and modernisation, results of socio-cultural transformations, ignorance of [the] public, lack of management by authorities, etc. However, the obvious fact binding these altogether and driving us to the solution is that it is all about what kind of a world we want to live inside. We can start to protect our wetlands by learning about them, defining the borders, by calling them with a name. Just like getting to know a person, when we know them deeper and recognize their needs, then we can make a change to help them.”
Life begins in wetlands.
Coastal wetlands have provided humanity with a wide range of benefits and life-enhancing qualities since the dawn of time. But now they’re disappearing at an alarming rate.
Our stories showcase Mediterranean coastal wetlands, the people who protect them, and the challenges they face.
Collared Pratincole Read the article in FR | ARI Bless the Rains Down in Africa It doesn’t know it yet, but that minuscule ball of down that just popped out of its shell into the world, running around wildly but never too far from the comfort of its parents, will...
Coastal wetlands are home to a fabulous diversity of species. But between land-grabbing and Climate Change, we’re losing them at an alarming rate. Read More
Since 1970, Earth Day has created a symbolic opportunity for all of us to remember how important it is to make sure we take care of the planet and its resources. The 2020 edition will focus on climate action. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. Read More
The Ancestral Wetlands of Ghar El Melh: Feeding the Mind, Body and Soul Have you ever taken a bite from a fresh tomato grown by a traditional farmer in Tunisia’s Ghar El Melh wetlands? It’s a delight for the palate – but it’s so much more than that. Behind this scarlet fruit lies an ancestral, ... Read More
FRRead this post in FR
Wetlands offer holistic contributions to addressing the planetary crises through their various intrinsic functions and attributes – what scientists, and increasingly much of the concerned public, are now calling Nature-based Solutions, or NbS in our acronym-crazed world! Read More
“In the old times fishing began in September, now we start in March. Everything has been intensively exploited for decades, and we are now paying the consequences. The rain is irregular, the reeds die and some species become extinct because of the exceeding salinity of the water”, explains Danilo, a fisherman in Oristano. “We do our best. We respect the fish while it grows, we take care of the lagoon, it’s our home, but it is a bigger problem than us, and despite the subsidies we barely survive.” Read More
Wetlands & People: A Vital Connection is a short animated video, which captures the deep rootedness of wetlands in our lives, our souls and our history – and the way in which we humans increasingly threaten them. Read More
Collared Pratincole - Glareola pratincolaRead the article in FR | AROne flew over a flamingo’s nest As Europe plots the elements of the EU Green Deal, its specifics due out in 100 days, March 2020, and the Climate COP ends in Madrid, Off Your Map reminds our leaders that wetlands play a ... Read More
In coming decades the climate crisis will cause a rise in the frequency of catastrophic natural events. For the nearly 180 million people living in the Mediterranean coastal area, from Barcelona to Cairo, this means surviving an increasing number of extreme storms and flooding, and counter-intuitively longer-lasting droughts and less overall rainfall. Read More
ARRead this post in AR
Each year on 25 September, Mediterranean countries celebrate ‘Coast Day’: this celebrates the importance of coastal areas as natural, cultural and socio-economic resources that contribute to sustainable development. Read More
ARRead this post in AR
At long last, the salt pans of Ulcinj Salina have been declared a national protected area! For the past 15 years, the Center for Protection and Research of Birds of Montenegro (CZIP), partner of BirdLife, has fought tirelessly to block a controversial building development poised to destroy one of Europe’s most important migratory bird resting and breeding sites. Read More