Tuesday, February 3, 2015

World Wetlands Day 2015:
Wetlands for Our Future

Image: WLE Postcard (back/front) highlights ecosystem services provided by Southeast Asian wetlands
Source: http://wle.cgiar.org/blog/2015/02/02/wetland-ecosystem-services/  

February 2nd 1971, the Convention of Wetlands was adopted and began the annual tradition of celebrating World Wetlands Day.

This year, the International Water Management Institute, or IWMI, has marked the occasion with the theme, Wetlands for Our Future, a photo contest, and communication materials available for download.  

In addition, they have produced the following infographic which highlights how broad-reaching the impacts of wetlands are on all of us.

Image: IWMI Infographic “Wetlands at Work” Source: http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/Publications/infographics/infographic-wetlands-at-work.pdf

What is particularly telling is the foundational impact of wetlands on ecosystems.

The Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and International Water Management Institute are a part of CGIAR—A Global Agricultural Research Partnership.

CGIAR research partnerships focus on reduction of rural poverty, improvement in food security, nutrition and health, and sustainability in managing natural resources.

What International Wetlands Day signifies is the recognition that ecosystems are the backbone of sustainable agriculture, and that ecosystems themselves have a foundation—wetlands…water.

More than anything else, wetlands produce living water. This ionized energy-rich flow is capable of supporting massive plant and animal populations, in addition to providing naturally filtered water for human consumption, so long as it is an agricultural ecosystem.

What wetlands cannot support (what no living system can support) is industrial agriculture model built on a paradigm of exploitation.

Any attempt to use wetlands as a “silver bullet” to support inherently unsustainable western-style industrialized agriculture is doomed to fail. Trying to bring increased productivity and efficiency to the rural poor using an anti-ecosystem model, supported by what can only support ecosystems, is folly.

That said, opportunities do exist to uncover and embrace nature’s modus operandi, thereby producing everything required by local populations in environmentally responsible and sustainable ways. In other words, to comprehend how wetlands and other ecosystems interact, and use that comprehension to enable those systems to flourish naturally. 

Any exploitative model, however ingenious it may seem, will be in a constant state of conflict with the underlying natural world which seeks harmony and symbiosis. An ecosystem approach, built on harmony and symbiosis, will be met by nature as an ally, and will be supported by nature to succeed.

It’s an infinitely complex process summed up by a very simple fact. All research in this area should be focused on restoring humanity’s harmony and symbiotic relationship with the ecosystem—wetlands included. How can we contribute and support ecosystem (as oppose to “exploit and manage” resources).

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