Understanding change in the ecological character of Ramsar wetlands: Perspectives from a deeper time - Synthesis

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    The Convention for Wetlands was signed in 1971 as part of a global measure to mitigate the loss and degradation of the world's wetlands. Signatory nations nominate wetlands as internationally important and commit to maintaining their 'ecological character'. In many cases the character that has been maintained was that occurring at the time of nomination with scant attention to the variability and change that occurs over longer periods. Palaeoclimate and palaeoecological research now reveals a diverse array of conditions in wetlands in the past and attests that any recently identified condition may be transient. The research further reveals the considerable magnitude and antiquity of the impact of people on wetlands. Hence the site description used by wetland managers would benefit from the provision of a longer-term perspective of change. The changing state of wetlands provides a dilemma for wetland managers. In response, a workshop on understanding change in wetlands was held in Queenscliff, Australia, in November 2013 to draw together perspectives of change from neo- and palaeoecological sources to enable the formulation of new pathways of assessment to better accommodate the dynamic nature of wetlands. A synthesis of the information provided at the workshop is provided in this paper.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberMF16075
    Pages (from-to)869-879
    Number of pages11
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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