Wetlands and agriculture are closely interlinked. Agriculture depends on wetlands for water – 70% of all water withdrawals from aquifers, streams and lakes is used for agriculture. Wetlands in turn depend on sustainable agricultural practices that manage water use so that wetlands remain healthy and can continue to provide their many benefits to people and nature.
Wetland – agriculture interactions, if poorly managed, come with a cost to society and to wildlife. Wetlands are increasingly threatened by agriculture’s growing demands for water and land. Wetland drainage and conversion to cultivated land or aquaculture are highly visible examples of the negative impacts of agriculture on wetlands. Less visible but equally harmful are the widespread use of noxious pesticides and excessive use of fertilizers that may contribute significantly to wetland pollution.
How to find the right balance? It all comes down to ensuring that wetlands are used wisely, to finding sustainable management solutions for the benefit of agriculture and wetlands. In our materials for this year’s World Wetlands Day we highlight some examples from around the world that illustrate the diversity of management practices for sustainable agriculture. These management solutions ensure that agriculture can continue producing food and that wetlands can continue providing their benefits and services.
We look forward to World Wetlands Day and to 2014, the UN International Year of Family Farming, as an opportunity for the agricultural and wetlands sectors to work together towards positive outcomes for both.