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  Special edition Eurosite eNewsletter
  WETLANDS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Setting the scene

Why wetlands are important to mitigate climate change
As a result of climate change we can expect to see changes in our climate that are greater than anything we have previously experienced. Healthy wetlands offer us a number of opportunities to help adapt and manage some of these future changes.

Photo: Freshwater and wetland plant species in Scotland © Andrew McBride
Wetlands and the global climate change policy context
Around 64% of wetlands have been lost since 1900 through drainage and conversion, and much of those that remain are under growing pressure from economic and infrastructure development. Global policy frameworks acknowledge this and give countries the responsibility to mainstream the protection and restoration of wetlands or freshwater systems and their services as a vital strategy for a sustainable and secure world.
Incorporating climate change in site management plans
A changing climate, with rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns presents a risk to many wetland habitats, but changing management offers the potential opportunity to reduce adverse impacts. Reducing these risks and impacts is becoming an important part of nature conservation, but to be effective it needs to be thoroughly integrated into broader management objectives.

Photo: Stiperstones National Nature Reserve © Simon Duffield
Wetlands and peatlands at the COP22
According to a recent study of Wetlands International, peat soils cover only 3% of land but hold more carbon than all global forest biomass. Many countries can kickstart national emission reductions by focusing on drained peat soils. The COP 22 climate change conference in Marrakech from 7 to 18 November 2016 hosted some key side events on wetlands and peatlands.
Wetlands need community involvement
Wetlands do not save themselves: they need defending. They are vulnerable: sensitive to being polluted, drained and ending up as rubbish dumps or building sites. They are also commonly undervalued. Because of this combination of being vulnerable and undervalued, encouraging community involvement is vital.

Photo: Trapping of migratory swallows at roosting time in mist nets in the Vallée des Baux, France © Chris Walley

Putting in practice

Peatlands in the Nordic-Baltic region
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Nordic Baltic Wetlands Initiative is a Ramsar regional initiative that initiated a project to assess the importance of Nordic-Baltic peatlands for climate regulation in 2013.

Photo: Restored Kauhaneva peat in Finland © Jari Ilmonen
Dutch Natural Climate Buffers
The Dutch Coalition Natural Climate Buffers can continue its work on nature-based solutions for climate change. Participation in the LIFE integrated project ‘Delta Nature’ is facilitating them to coordinate the work by its eight collaborative partners. The Coalition will also host the Eurosite Climate Buffers Study Tour in June 2017.

Photo: Climate buffer providing flood prevention for the city of Groningen © Natuurmonumenten / Geurt Besselink
Estimate river flows to set climate change goals
The protected area of Axios-Loudias-Aliakmonas in Greece is an extended coastal wetland. Its management authority identified that impending climate change will add to and magnify pressures and risks that are already present in the watershed. It therefore commissioned a study on the ecological flow in Axios and Aliakmonas rivers.

Photo: Wet meadows in the Axios river © Lia Papadranga
Sponges as a nature-based solution for flood prevention
Natural water retention by restoring wetland ‘sponges’ in the upstream sections of the river basin can contribute to flood prevention in the Rhine basin. Relatively small interventions in small areas can make a big difference in slowing down the discharge of an entire river basin if both land use and drainage are taken into account.

Image: Role of a sponge in the upstream section of a river.
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