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Fundamentals of Tropical Freshwater Wetlands
2022, 589-639

Vegetated wetlands: from ecology to conservation management

Kenneth Irvine1,2, Chris Dickens3, Leandro Castello4, Ian Bredin5, C. Max Finlayson1,6

IHE Delft Institute of Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Despite the abundant evidence of benefits for conservation, climate mitigation, and human livelihoods, wetlands globally remain under pressure of loss and degradation. Such pressures are particularly prevalent in the tropics, where institutional capacity for management and protection can be limited. This chapter outlines some key features of tropical wetlands with a focus on vegetated marshes and their connection with floodplains. It provides an overview of the character of tropical marshes and the importance of ecology for their characterization and connectivity within catchments. The delineation of tropical wetlands and floodplains has benefited greatly from developments in Earth Observations, but basic description of ecological form and function, and the response of that to seasonal changes in hydrology and, increasingly, human pressures is an ongoing requirement throughout the tropics. While good evidence-based guidance exists to support the management of tropical wetlands, and new methods are being developed and applied, it is also very necessary to adopt a pragmatic approach to how best to conserve and manage sites when resources are lacking. We outline different levels of possible management, using case studies from central Africa.

Keywords: Wetlands, tropics, management, conservation, policy.

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