During May 4th – 7th, the University of Algarve, Portugal, hosted the 12th annual conference of the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), European Chapter. The meeting brought together scientists and managers connected to wetlands from different disciplines; from wetland restoration and constructed wetlands to paludiculture, water quality, and, of course, remote sensing. The University of Bonn represented SWOS at the meeting and presented the work the project is doing in Kilombero, Tanzania, along with an overview of other satellite derived products. The presentation showed how automatic global classifications cannot detect farm encroachment in some wetlands, and how this gap in knowledge has been filled by SWOS user-tailored solutions. The presentation was well received by other scientists who will benefit from long records of satellite derived products to strengthen, extrapolate, or cross-validate their results.
The SWS and Ramsar Convention signed a memorandum of cooperation that creates a collaboration framework between both organizations. A questionnaire developed by the Ramsar section of the SWS and World Wetland Network was circulated among participants. The survey is part of a global citizen-science based assessment on the state of wetlands and you can take part in it here.
In a situation where wetlands continue to be degraded, new monitoring and management approaches are necessary. With agriculture as the main cause of wetland loss, some scientists have started to advocate for paludiculture –the “wet” cultivation of wetlands without stripping them off their ecological functioning. Efforts to empower local communities to care for the wetlands they live in are also being done.
There is a strong need by wetland practitioners to access spatial information on a timely manner. SWOS products, portal, and the community built around them will contribute to finding solutions for reversing wetlands’ degradation trends and identifying alternatives for their wise use.
By Javier Muro, University of Bonn