ACB calls for collective action to curb wetland degradation

ACB calls for collective action to curb wetland degradation Seorang perempuan mendayung sampan di sebuah ekosistem lahan basah. Photo by: ANTARA/HO-ASEAN Center for Biodiversity/Gab Mejia

 Source: ANTARA
Date: February 3, 2022

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The ASEAN Center for Biological Diversity (ACB) calls for collective action to curb the degradation of the precious ecosystem of wetlands to support people's health and livelihoods on World Wetlands Day.

Executive Director of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) Theresa Mundita S Lim in a written statement received in Jakarta, Wednesday said the global community is commemorating World Wetlands Day, and ACB is joining the celebration, as well as giving calls for conservation and restoration. wetlands throughout ASEAN and beyond.

The theme for this year's World Wetlands Day is "Wetlands Action for People and Nature" which underscores the importance of wetlands in supporting the health and livelihoods of global communities, including in ASEAN.

The ASEAN region, according to him, is endowed with nearly two million square kilometers of inland waters and wetlands and comprises 60 percent and 42 percent respectively of the world's tropical peatlands and mangroves, which provide significant economic and livelihood benefits for communities. 

More than one billion people worldwide depend on wetlands for valuable economic activities, such as irrigated rice farming, water supply, energy sources, and tourism. In addition, inland waters provide vital life services for all, as they serve as a home for the unique vegetation and organisms that help wetlands perform many functions.

Significantly, he says, wetlands are central to solutions to climate change. Healthy peatlands have a unique carbon storage function, with twice the capacity of the world's forests to prevent carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

Degraded wetlands emit huge amounts of carbon that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Land development programs and natural resource extraction that do not take into account the value of wetlands are unsustainable, losing more investment to prevent impacts that coastal and inland ecosystems could naturally prevent.

At the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) last year, when calls for net-zero emissions were raised, the important role of wetlands as a nature-based solution was underlined along with urgent action, such as mobilizing finance for the conservation of this vital ecosystem.

However, he said, habitat loss due to anthropogenic factors will inevitably displace wildlife species – some of which act as natural viral reservoirs – and increase the risk of direct transmission from wildlife to domestic animals and human populations.

With the many benefits that wetlands provide, according to him, the actions of the whole community are becoming increasingly urgent. Ensuring healthy and well-managed wetlands requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders, be it communities who directly and indirectly benefit from wetlands, business and industrial sectors that contribute to the local economy, academic and research institutions that contribute to the growth of good knowledge. relevant to conservation, and the local, national, and regional governments responsible for developing and implementing policies.

"We all have a vested interest in responding to calls for wetland action," he said.

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