A synthesis: Wetlands as settings for human health

Colin Finlayson, Pierre Horwitz, Philip Weinstein

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The interactions between wetlands and people have been explored in this book through the treatment of ecological and human health and well-being issues for both wetland management and public health practitioners. This recognises that both sectors have reciprocal and important roles to play in ensuring that the benefits provided by wetlands are maintained and even enhanced. Examples are given of the benefits for human health and well-being derived from wetlands, as well as the potential for adverse outcomes if the ecological character of wetlands is not maintained when making decisions about wetlands and human health issues. The examples provide more resolution to what it means for a wetland to be ‘healthy’ with a proposition that wetland health should be based on social values and indicators that could be agreed through the following steps: establish the best possible reference condition, given acceptable land or water use; make judgements based on uses of human amenity derived from the wetland; acknowledge that restoration may be necessary, especially where wetland uses prove to be non-sustainable; and accept that changes in use/amenity can change the condition and hence perception of the health of the wetland.

The ‘settings’ approach for wetlands is promoted whereby the wetland is the ‘setting’ in which people “take care of each other, our communities and our natural environment”. The setting also includes the institutional and governmental aspects required to deliver health services, to address health inequalities, and to intervene for public health. The key message from this book is that wetlands (as places of water on land, and where water shapes the land), and human health (which in its richest sense addresses the well-being of people, beyond ill-health or the absence of disease), are interconnected and to a certain extent interdependent. Maintaining or restoring wetlands can promote the ecosystem services that support the many benefits that provide vital support for human health and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWetlands and human health
EditorsPierre Horwitz, Philip Weinstein, C Max Finlayson
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789401796088
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameWetlands: ecology, conservation and management


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