program to o
WASHINGTONI A worldwide
program to preserve wetlands has
been proposed in & report recently
published under the auspices ,f the
International Institute for Envirohn
ment and Development. -
The report calls for a campaign to.
heighten public awareness of the im-
portance of wetlands t. the ecology,.
the creation of multinational
management groups to preserve
wetlands, national research pro-
grams to-make inventories and de-
termine the specific needs for
conservation of wetland areas, and
training of wetland scientists and
"We need to stop thinking of
economics, engineering, ecology, and
environment as separate entitities,"
said Edward Maltby, the author of
the report, who is a lecturer in geo-
graphy at Exeter University in
Great Britain. "Instead, we need to
start seeing them as aspects of a
single ecosystem which has to be pro-
perly managed to ensure long-term
stability and sustained resource
Wetlands are being drained for
agriculture, urban expansion, and
industrial and commercial develop-
ment at a rapid rate, or they are be-
ing destroyed by chemical pesticides
and other pollution, the report says.
It estimates that one-half the world's
wetlands have been lost since-1900.
The most rapid destruction is tak-
ing place in the U.S., particularly in
the southern states, where close to
500,000 acres of wetlands are disap-
pearing each year.
In third-world countries wetlands
are being drained to promote
economic development, often with
the help of large multinational or bi-
lateral lending institutions in indus-
trialized countries. These could
destroy people's livelihood far from
where the development is taking
place, according to the report.
Maltby points out that the political
and legal issues and patterns of
economic and social development,
"rather than any natural processes"
appear to determining the future of
wetlands at present.
"Raising people's awareness of
wetlands and convincing them of
their real value, a process that often
comes up against lifelong prejudices
towards marshes, swamps, and bogs,
is not easy," he says.
The report, "Waterlogged Wealth:
Why Waste the World's West
Places?" was published by Earths-