Wetlands and Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made of some of the world's best climate scientists, concluded in 1995 that there is human influence on the global climate. Based on this, 160 countries negotiated the Kyoto Protocol to address the issue of human impacts on climate change.¹ The consequences of climate change are not clear, but climate models are predicting serious problems in many areas of the world.
Agricultural and prairie regions are particularly sensitive and therefore vulnerable to climate change. Much of the economy is dependent on the quantity and quality of water and soil, both of which have been significantly affected by past climate change. Wetlands in these regions, which are ecologically situated at the land-water interface, are particularly vulnerable to the potential impacts of climate change.
Wetlands are among the world's most productive environments and provide a wide variety of benefits (Ramsar, 1998)² . They are cradles of biological diversity, providing the water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. The interactions of physical, biological and chemical components of a wetland, such as soils, water, plants and animals, enable the wetland to perform many vital functions, for example: water storage; storm protection and flood mitigation; shoreline stabilization and erosion control; groundwater recharge; groundwater discharge; water purification through retention of nutrients, sediments, and pollutants; and stabilization of local climate conditions, particularly rainfall and temperature (Ramsar, 1998).
Ducks Unlimited (DU), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and Wetlands International-Americas (WI-A) have been working together to explore the feasibility of crediting carbon sequestration through conservation activities in wetlands as part of Canada's commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly, this feasibility must be based on sound science.
This website was developed to explore the state of knowledge and challenges on wetlands and carbon sequestration. Within this site, information has been gathered from papers, workshops and presentations and is available to the reader.
Funding for the partnership work comes from the workshop members (DU, IISD and WI-A) as well as from Industry Canada, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), and Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC).
1. IISD, A Guide to Kyoto: Climate Change and What it Means to Canadians, 1998.