Policy and integrated management Environment

Posted October 1999

Understanding the ecological impact of tideland reclamation
Part 2: Integrated Coastal Area Management

by Nadia Scialabba
Environment Officer
Environment and Natural Resource Service
Research, Extension and Training Division
From "Understanding the ecological impact of tideland reclamation: a step towards Integrated Coastal Resources Management", a paper prepared for the International Symposium on Environment-Friendly Restoration of Coastal Reclaimed Tidelands (Seoul, Republic of Korea, 13-14 September 1999). See also Special: Integrated coastal area management and agriculture, forestry & fisheries

< from Part 1

1. Overview of Republic of Korea's wetlands

Numerous estuaries and shallow sea bays with extensive intertidal mud flats are present along west and south coasts of the Korean Peninsula. In some areas there is a broad coastal plain with many small lakes, expansive reed beds and large areas of rice paddy. Marshy coastal plain is essentially well developed around estuaries of the Chongchon-Gang and Teadong rivers in the North, and in the lower basins of Mankyung/Tongjin and Kum, Han/Imjin, Asan, Namyang, Naktong and Sunchon rivers in the South.

Korea's tidelands near rivermouths are very productive (especially of benthic biomass) and support an especially rich and diverse fauna and flora. They provide important staging and wintering areas for many of the East Asia species of waterbirds (duck and goose, crane and shorebirds) and migratory species breeding in arctic Russia. Many sites qualify as wetlands of international importance as they support a substantial proportion of global waterfowl populations: the Saemankeum tidal flat supports some 25 species of waterfowl in internationally important numbers and is perhaps the most important waterfowl habitat in East Asia.

In response to increasing shortage of land suitable for agriculture and steep rise in food imports, the Korean government is pursuing a major programme of wetland reclamation at estuaries and shallow bays on the South and West Coast of the country.

The Government funded, from 1970 to 1996, 14 large-scale agricultural projects that reclaimed a total area of 141 248 hectares, of which 53 160 hectares were tidal lands. The works in progress, expected to be completed by 2004, include eight projects that include the reclamation of 83 900 hectares of tidal lands.

This "Large-scale comprehensive agricultural development and integrated tideland reclamation" project has two broad aims: (i) to create new lands for agriculture, industry and urban expansion; and (ii) to develop water resources and to improve the agriculture infrastructure.

The "Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development Model for the Rural Farmland and Agricultural Resources in Taeho Agricultural Tideland" includes 3 859 hectares of reclaimed tidelands. The ecosystems converted included the flood plain of the Sunghyum and Youmsol rivers and the tidal plain of Taheo.

Present Government efforts are concerned with negative environmental impact of wetland reclamation. The Taeho project has the following objectives:

The experience to be derived from the Taeho project is intended to be applied to the Saemangeum and Sihwa tideland reclamation projects which are under development; these projects are planning to reclaim, respectively, 40 100 and 17 450 hectares of estuarine environments for agriculture, freshwater and urban and industrial use.

2. The policy and planning dimensions of wetlands

Information on the ecological values of wetlands is important to evaluate their contribution to social and economic well-being and thus, to improve their management. Awareness of the wetland role in creating and maintaining biodiversity, and especially their support role to migratory birds, has led to worldwide initiatives of conservation.

Today, 116 countries are parties of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It is however very common to see countries committed to this Convention actively supporting wetland reclamation as part of their national agricultural policy. Such inconsistencies are not the result of unwillingness to consider environmental concerns but the consequence of narrow sectoral approaches that fail to integrate coastal resources management. Because several economic sectors use the same natural resource base, trans-sectoral impacts should be clarified and legal and institutional arrangements governing property and use rights understood. This implies the consideration of all relevant information and criteria applied by different institutions and at different levels in planning and decision-making.

Both information failure and policy failure which are at the source of wetland mis-management can be addressed by the integrated coastal area management approach.

3. Tideland reclamation: information and research needs

In the Taeho area, reclamation is nearly completed and efforts are made to orient activities in an environment-sensitive manner. The areas allocated to agriculture and to the eco-park could be used as pilot sites to test the feasibility of sustainable agriculture, namely organic agriculture, to undertake ecological research, and to monitor environmental change.

Below is a list of main activities planned for the Taeho area where opportunities, constraints and information and research needs are identified. Opportunities foreseen after completion of reclamation include new land for agriculture, industry and urban development and fresh water supply. The ecopark and partially restored wetlands will offer employment and environmental awareness avenues. Besides initial investment costs and future maintenance costs, the major constraints of reclamation are the adverse impact on biodiversity and thus, on the long-term viability of fisheries and waterfowl migrations. These "hidden" effects could be quantified and evaluated through studies that focus on changes of energy and nutrient cycles (i.e. food chain) brought by reclamation works of the past two decades. Careful assessment of the modified hydrological regime will clarify issues such as the longer-term availability of fresh water, expected flood hazards, and waste disposal requirements. Finally, a better understanding of interactions between different sectoral activities (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, tourism, industry) both in terms on impact on the environment and on other sectors' productivity, will shed light on decisions for most suitable land use options.

Activity Opportunities Constraints Research needs


None because of conversion to terrestrial ecosystem
- Loss of habitat and wetland species;
- Decrease of coastal and off-shore fishery production.
- Monitor fishery productivity over time and effect of habitat conversion on the fishery sector and on local food security;
- Study effect of reclamation on seashore abiotic structures (sedimentation patterns) and on local climate.
Paddy rice production Food supply (yields 5.4t/ha to 6 t/ha) - Cost of sea dikes and irrigation infrastructure;
- Potential decreased land fertility and longer-term decrease of rice yields;
- Potential salt-water and air-born salt intrusion.
- Balance food benefits of natural/drained floodplains over different time horizons (contribution to rice self-sufficiency, contribution to local livelihoods through past harvests of fish, seaweed, and other food);
- Explore feasibility of organic agriculture to reduce run-off.
Irrigation Water for paddy
- Cost of construction and maintenance of irrigation scheme;
- Agro-chemical pollution from drainage of irrigated fields;
- Adverse impact on landscape.
- Monitor over time efficiency of irrigated agriculture and anticipate mitigation measures or alternatives;
- Monitor nitrogen and pesticide levels in land and water.
Fresh water development Water availability for agriculture and drinking
- Cost of construction of reservoirs;
- Cost of reservoirs maintenance (sedimentation);
- Loss of biodiversity, including waterfowl;
- Effect of typhoon floods on the natural and man-made environments.
- Monitor efficiency of water supply and freshwater quality of reservoirs/natural wetland groundwater;
- Compare efficiency of flood control of natural/reclaimed wetlands;
- Monitor seawater intrusion in reservoirs;
- Study (new) marshes ecology in terms of substrate and food chain suitable to different migratory birdsí species (prey availability, mud foraging, etc.).
Water and waste treatment facilities Pollution control Cost of construction and maintenance - Compare wetland/waste treatment efficiency to remove heavy metals and nitrates;
- Monitor eutrophication of coastal waters downstream.

- Income and employment from eco-tourism;
- Potential shelter for migratory birds;
- Environmental awareness.
- Cost of facilities for tourists;
- Cost of infrastructure to restore habitats.
- Monitor wildlife and migratory birds populations in time as nutrient availability is bound to decrease;
- Develop a management plan for migratory and other birds;
- Identify natural areas to be conserved as gene pools and/or shelter for wildlife;
- Assess plant and animal biodiversity prior to wetland reclamation as a basis to defining the shift in species;
- Study nutrient cycling among food chains (applicable for the whole area).
Urban and industrial settlements Land availability - Waste generation;
- Increased pressure for water and other services
- Integrate environmental impact and carrying capacity into land use plans.

4. The process of integrated coastal area management

Unless ecological information is inserted into a proper policy framework, economic sectors will continue utilizing wetlands in an antagonistic and competitive manner (thus, generating conflicts) and degrading the resource base. The process of decision-making is a key factor to consider in the pursuit of wetland management.

A "master plan" or "integrated coastal area management (ICAM)" [13] plan(s) for the conservation, management and development of Korea's tidelands is the most suitable approach to evaluate present actions and plans and direct future developments.

An ICAM process starts with a concept paper and evolves through a number of steps that lead to the definition, by all sectors, of an ICAM strategy. The strategy will, in turn, guide the development of either a common integrated plan or expanded sectoral plans. The different steps involved in the process are briefly described below (see also Annex 4).

4.1 Inception: defining intended objectives

Wetlands are viewed as areas offering different opportunities by different sectors and users: agriculture seeks to reclaim wetlands for food production; fisheries seek their productive shelter for aquaculture; planners seek water availability for industrial and domestic use; environmentalists seek wildlife conservation; and so on. Often wetlands are used and managed traditionally by local people whose participation is essential. Considering that the management process will involve land and water allocation, it should be based on a consultative process among governmental and non-governmental agencies, resource users, and the scientific community.

A concept paper, stating the need to initiate an ICAM process, can be prepared by either a Government institution or by a group of individuals with authoritative interests (e.g. environmental group or university) with knowledge in wetland conservation and experience in cross-sectoral approaches. The entity that initiates the process is not necessarily the one that will subsequently lead the process.

The concept paper should identify all actors and institutions involved in past and planned wetland use, define a coordination mechanism suitable to all actors, define intended achievements and propose time frame and costs. Once the concept paper receives, by the Government, the decision to proceed, steering and management committees should be established, with representatives from all parties concerned, to guide and coordinate the process. The committees should be based where they can have the greatest influence on the national development system (e.g. Ministry of Planning).

Considering both the Government's national policy to increase land availability for agriculture and the importance of Korea's tidal flats for international waterfowl, it is suggested that the broad objective of "Multiple-use managed resource area" be adopted. This is one of the categories and management objectives allowed for protected areas and their application to wetlands. It provides for the sustained production of water, timber, pasture, wildlife and outdoor recreation, with the conservation of nature primarily oriented to the support of the economic activities (although specific zones can also be designed within these areas to achieve specific conservation objectives).

A key issue to consider will be the question of scale or geographical coverage of the ICAM plan. Coastal wetlands are open systems, influenced by activities well beyond their borders. They receive nutrients and pollutants from watersheds and in turn, influence coastal nutrient and energy flows. The important role of tidal flats along bird migratory routes, and perhaps the nutrients they supply to the whole Yellow Sea fisheries, suggest that ultimately, all Korea wetlands be covered by the plan in order to allow development actions on some sites and conservation of others. For pragmatic reasons, however, concerned parties may choose to start reflecting upon one or more selected pilot areas and to increase the coverage of the plan as more experience is acquired.

4.2. Performance review: organizing the process

From the outset, parties represented in the steering and management committees will establish who, how and when data will be collected, the criteria to be used to evaluate results and the indicators to monitor progress. Monitoring, at the early stage of articulation and implementation of a project, is the most important management tool, satisfying the iterative nature of a dynamic and participatory process.

The timing of the evaluation period is also set from the outset by participants. Periodic evaluation focuses on the effectiveness in the operating mode, with particular attention to proper valuation of environmental externalities. Evaluation involves all those associated in the project and their collective counsel should be elicited as regards project improvement in the next phase.

Systematic recording and periodic analysis of information provides signals during the life of a project that allow adjustments to be made, as necessary. Adjustments could involve redefining goals later in the process, developing monitoring questions, determining indicators that will answer questions, determining who will do the monitoring and when periodic analysis will take place, modifying organizational arrangements, reassigning resources, etc.

An ICAM process is built around a succession of management loops or cycles whereby the "rules of the game" and achievements are continuously reviewed and refined. It is after each performance review step that the process enters into a new cycle. Through successive cycles, the scope and scale of what will become the ICAM plan are increased to incorporate new information and experience, and eventually new geographical areas and partners.

4.3. Data collection and research

Apart from very few cases, the appreciation of wetland services (such as nutrient pools, regulators of water supply and quality, flood control, or pollutant filters) is absent. The understanding of these values and their economic and social implications can determine decisions affecting their management.

Each sub-sector represented in the steering and management committees (e.g. agriculture, forestry, fisheries, industry, urban planning, and tourism) should prepare baseline information on the resources, environmental impacts, and institutional structures proper to wetland management. It is important that, through the data collection phase, each sector understands the negative externalities it is producing on the environment and on social well-being as well as how much its own productivity (and related livelihoods) are affected by environmental degradation.

The result of this corporate exercise will form a coastal wetland profile that includes information on the biophysical environment, the socio-economic environment, the institutional environment that determine the current and anticipated negative and positive impacts of each sector's activities, problems to be addressed, causes of concern, and possible alternatives. The profile will also serve as baseline data against which change will be monitored. The focus will be on essential information from both primary and secondary sources, including rapid appraisal and public inquiries. Where research is required to fill information gaps, it should be included in the plan.

4.3.1. Biophysical information

The site description includes chiefly natural wetland environmental conditions and expected impact of reclamation or restoration. Efforts should be made to provide information on patterns of natural resource use in space and time, flows, variability, resilience, levels of exploitation and intra- and inter-sectoral impacts. The ecological inter-connectivity within wetland systems and the loss of environmental services and expected collapse of productivity well beyond the wetland system after reclamation should be made clear. The extent to which restoration measures will impact the surrounding environments should also be clarified.

Biological information includes plant and animal resources, major habitats and reproduction sites, and presence of special species. In this respect, a quantification (or qualification) of wetland primary and secondary productivity, biodiversity and abundance of species (e.g. waterfowl), habitats for shorebirds nesting and roosting, important flyways, hatching and nursery areas for fisheries, threatened and endangered animal and plant species, exchange zones, etc. are all important aspects.

Physical information will focus on wetland geomorphology and its driving hydrological regime. The energy and nutrient flow that governs its productivity and various environmental services should be understood. Tides, sedimentary dynamics, watershed inputs, hydric balance (in surface, underground and coastal waters), water quality, salinity and permanence, local climatic conditions, soils, etc. are all important to investigate.

4.3.2. Social and economic information

This information will help understand the demand put on wetland resources. Resource use dependency (for example, on fisheries, wildlife, and water supply), the number of people deriving livelihoods from undisturbed wetlands, and the population expected to derive benefits after reclamation or restoration, are central elements.

Wetland contribution to well-being should be established by accounting for return on capital and on labour, return on land, economic variability and risks, market distortions, and distribution of benefits. Information is also needed on past and current resource use patterns by different economic sectors, land tenure of wetlands and surrounding areas, the impact of change in traditional land-use control upon wetland resources, antagonistic or competition over natural resources, economic linkages, etc.

4.3.3. Institutional information

This information will involve legal and institutional mechanisms that influence wetland management policies and development priorities. Legislation, customary laws and administrative programmes within each sector will provide information on responsibilities, activities, access and rights to land and water, conservation measures, observance and enforcement, investment, and other mechanisms that regulate human activities and propose changes in wetland resource use.

Great emphasis should be placed on collecting information on policies for land-use planning, water resource management, national agricultural development and other decisions affecting wetlands.

4.4. Analysis: evaluating problems and causes of concern

Biophysical, socio-economic and institutional information provided by each of the economic sectors is analysed with a view to evaluate problems, societal costs, the required institutional responses, and a statement of possible actions. Interactions between various economic sectors will emerge, and constraints, opportunities and possible alternatives or compensatory measures for sustainable development will be identified. Cross-referencing of problems and causes for concern with the relevant institutional infrastructure provides the basis for an analysis of the response of institutions and their strengths and weaknesses.

Information about development planned in other sectors can clarify proposed land uses and the consideration of options. Negotiation, and perhaps arbitration, will be needed to resolve conflicts. It is very important, for the success of negotiation, that all parties involved participate on equal footing, that interests be identified clearly and that there are opportunities for mutual gain.

The clarification of environmental impact of proposed actions and their economic and social implications will be essential to resolve conflicts. Environmental impact assessment of reclamation, cost-benefit analysis, and economic valuation of wetland functions [14] (e.g. water supply, flood control, waste purification, nutrients pools), products (e.g. fisheries) and attributes (e.g. biodiversity), at least in qualitative terms, will help establish the short and long-term consequences of existing trends in the condition and use of wetlands.

Considering the degree of uncertainty as to the long-term harm caused by development works and the lack of information or necessary scientific evidence, it is useful to adopt a precautionary approach based on definition of the risk that can be accepted and the extent to which the natural environment should be protected from change.

Valuation and analysis will focus on the allocation of resources and trade-offs between development options that have environmental and social effects. For example, if wetlands are reclaimed for industrial use, and this will result in loss of coastal habitats and nutrients, which in turn will adversely impact fisheries, in a sense, the fishery resources are being allocated to industry.

4.5. Strategy formulation: negotiating management options

The ICAM strategy is developed by the steering and management committees on the basis of the broad goals identified in the inception paper and on the information analysis. The strategy defines long-term objectives and identifies management options that include: negotiated management procedures, rationale for selecting policy instruments, and research and training plans.

In case the strategy does emphasise surrending tidal flats to agricultural, industrial or urban development, such choice should be made after an exhaustive analysis of trade-offs, including benefits and risks of adopting the selected strategy. In order to reach agreement on trade-offs, negotiation should take place among all involved. It is paramount for the objectives to be those of the people involved, and so they are set following broad-ranging consultations and debates. Objectives can be refined as the strategy progresses. There must be high-level political support for the strategy.

4.6. Plan formulation

Once agreed, the strategy is translated into either an ICAM plan or absorbed into sectoral plans. The latter case is easier to implement as it involves "up-grading" of conventional sectoral planning to an include ICAM component that addresses cross-sectoral concerns and prevent adverse environmental impacts. Policy measures will be taken, during the formulation stage, to remove externalities and to anticipate difficulties and provide for changes in circumstances not foreseen by the plan.

While the responsibility for the preparation of the ICAM strategy lies with a lead coordinating body, the implementation of the strategy through plans is best performed by line ministries and local governments, in conjunction with non-governmental organizations. When ICAM is an integral part of sectoral development plans, sectoral objectives and policies are more easily tuned to the wetland development objectives agreed upon in the strategy.

4.7. Plan implementation

During implementation, new information and periodic monitoring and evaluation will lead to revisions of objectives and management interventions, as provided for during plan formulation.

It is important, throughout the process, to keep a transparent and flexible approach focused on information sharing and coordination, with a view to maximising synergies. The process itself is a learning exercise that needs to be gradual and consistent with national plans.


Concerns associated with wetland reclamation are the adverse downstream effects on biodiversity and on the sectors depending on it (e.g. fisheries, tourism). Fisheries decline is already apparent. In reclaimed tidelands, soil is difficult to manage productively for agricultural use. Besides initial investment, production costs in the primary sector are likely to increase, as well as replacement and restoration costs to service the secondary sector (e.g. industry, tourism) and urban development.

Careful balancing, over time, of environmental and economic opportunities and constraints can unlock more efficient alternatives to reclamation of coastal wetlands. The improved information basis is necessary but not sufficient to sustainable wetland management. An ICAM approach can ensure appropriate policy and planning decisions for Korea's wetlands. ICAM would allow a better balancing of trade-offs between sectors, namely between industrial development that encroaches on agricultural lands as well as agricultural search for new lands that encroaches on fishery productivity.

The "Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development Model" of the Taeho project is successfully progressing towards restoration of reclaimed tidelands. This project, however, is only one little part of the national wetland network and do represent 0.04 per cent of the total tideland area currently under reclamation. This scale factor is extremely important in evaluating the replicability of this model, especially because the expected good environmental conditions of the Taeho area could not possibly influence the larger scale hydrology and nutrient flows that determine the productivity of the whole region.

It is the cumulative changes in different wetland conditions that would ultimately adversely impact on waterfowl migration strategies and fishery productivity within and across the national borders. Understanding the role of the overall wetland system and the services they provide will allow conducting reclamation in a way that minimizes areas reclaimed and protects sensitive sites.

Annex 1: Energy flow and nutrient cycling in the soil ecosystem

Annex 2: Nitrogen cycle in the ecosystem

Annex 3: A classification of wetlands

Fresh areas
Inland fresh areas
1. Seasonally flooded
basins of flats
Soil covered with water or waterlogged during variable periods but well drained during much of the growing season. In upland depressions and bottomlands. Bottomland hardwoods to herbaceous growth.
2. Fresh meadows Without standing water during growing season; waterlogged to within a few inches of surface. Grasses, sedges, rushes, broad-leaf plants.
3. Shallow fresh marshes Soil waterlogged during growing season; often covered with 6 or more inches of water. Grasses, bulrushes, spike rushes, cattails, arrowhead, smartweed, pickerelweed. A major waterfowl production area.
4. Deep fresh marshes Soil covered with 6 inches to 3 feet of water. Cattails, reeds, bulrushes, spike rushes, wild rice. Principal duck-breeding area.
5. Open fresh water Water less than 10 feet deep. Bordered by emergent vegetation: pondweed, naiads, wild celery, water lily. Brooding, feeding, nesting area for ducks.
6. Shrub swamps Soil waterlogged; often covered with 1 foot of water. Alder, willow, buttonbush, dogwoods. Ducks nesting and feeding to limited extent.
7. Wooded swamps Soil waterlogged; often covered with 1 foot of water. Along sluggish streams, flat uplands, shallow lake basins. North: tamarack, arborvitae, spruce, red maple, silver maple; South: water oak, overcup oak, tupelo, swamp black gum, cypress.
8. Bogs Soil waterlogged; spongy covering of mosses. Heath shrubs, sphagnum, sedges.
Coastal fresh areas
9. Shallow fresh marshes
Soil waterlogged during growing season; at high tides as much as 6 inches of water. On landward side, deep marshes along tidal rivers, sounds, deltas. Grasses and sedges. Important waterfowl areas.
10. Deep fresh marshes At high tide covered with 6 inches to 3 feet of water. Along tidal rivers and bays. Cattails, wild rice, giant cutgrass.
11. Open fresh water Shallow portions of open water along fresh tidal rivers and sounds. Vegetation scarce or absent. Important waterfowl.
Saline Areas
Inland saline areas
12. Saline flats
Flooded after periods of heavy precipitation; waterlogged within few inches of surface during the growing season. Vegetation: seablite, salt grass, saltbush. Fall waterfowl feeding areas.
13. Saline marshes Soil waterlogged during growing season; often covered with 2 to 3 feet of water; shallow lake basins. Vegetation: alkali hard-stemmed bulrush, widgeon grass, sago pondweed. Valuable waterfowl areas.
14. Open saline water Permanent areas of shallow saline water. Depth variable. Sago pondweed, muskgrasses. Important waterfowl feeding areas.
Coastal saline areas
15. Salt flats
Soil waterlogged during growing season. Sites occasionally to fairly regularly covered by high tide. Landward sides or islands within salt meadows and marshes. Salt grass, seablite, saltwort.
16. Salt meadows Soil waterlogged during growing season. Rarely covered with tide water; landward side of salt marshes. Cord grass, salt grass, black rush. Waterfowl feeding areas.
17. Irregularly flooded salt marshes Covered by wind tides at irregular intervals during the growing season. Along shores of nearly enclosed bays, sounds, etc. Needlerush. Waterfowl cover area.
18. Regularly flooded salt marshes Covered at average high tide with 6 or more inches of water; along open ocean and along sounds. Salt marsh cord grass along Atlantic. Pacific: alkali bulrush, glassworts. Feeding area for ducks and geese.
19. Sounds and bays Portions of salt-water sounds and bays shallow enough to be diked and filled. All water landward from average low tide line. Wintering areas for waterfowl.
20. Mangrove swamps Soil covered at average high tide with 6 inches to 3 feet of water. Along coast of southern Florida. Red and black mangroves
Adapted from S.P. Shaw and C.G. Fredine, Wetlands of the United States, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv. Circ. 39 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1956)

Annex 4: Steps in the ICAM process


1. The major human intrusion into the nitrogen cycle involves inputs of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere and nitrates into aquatic ecosystems (through improper use of nitrogen fertilizer, animal wastes and sewage).

2. For example, in Massachusetts, USA, 750 000 people are dependent on water from wells drilled in or near wetlands (1973 data). In the Malaysia Peninsular, swamp drainage disrupted the hydrological system, and costly reservoir building for water was lost to silting; this led to peat swamp forest conservation for a reliable water supply for a neighbouring rice scheme during the dry season.

3. For example, fish catch from the Mediterranean sea adjacent to the Nile delta decreased from 38 000 tons in 1962 to 14 000 tons in 1968, as a result of the Aswan dam construction that reduced nutrient and sediment exports.

4. One hectare of tidal wetlands can do the job of US$ 123 000 worth of state of the art waste-water treatment and many communities are now recreating wetlands as a simple and cheap way of cleaning sewage effluents.

5. For example: the amount of soil worked over by earthworms is tremendous: 4-36 tons of soil passes through the alimentary tracts of the total earthworm population living on an acre in a year, soil cellulose-decomposing bacteria take apart 100 billion tons of plant tissue that die every year; a biomass more than 10 times larger than all fossil fuel we now extract in a year.

6. Source: Recommendation REC C.1.5 of the Conference of the Contracting Parties of 1980 of the Ramsar Convention.

7. Indonesian tidal swamps have been cultivated successfully by communities using traditional techniques. Rice is the major crop, often in combination with coconuts and fruit trees, which help reduce soil acidity. Corn, cassava and vegetables are also grown. Swamp farmers also raise livestock (poultry) and maintain fisheries in the canals and ditches of the coconut gardens.

8. Sustainable wetland use is quite similar to Asian society usage that built upon the control and exploitation of wetland systems; for example the manipulation of the Mekong River by the Angkor in Indochina.

9. Data from African floodplains suggest that over time there is very little difference between traditional extensive methods of agriculture and intensive rice cultivation and if capital investment is considered, rice cultivation can actually lose money.

10. In USA, the first state laws regulating wetland alteration were passed only when filling in riverine floodplains resulted in flooding of towns, and dredging and fill of salt marshes reduced finfish and shellfish harvests; in fact, federal aid for drainage activities has been removed and crop subsidies are no longer available for landowners that drain their wetlands. In Zambia, the importance of fishery, pasture and wildlife resources of the Kafue floodplain, and the failure of intensive irrigated agriculture, led local leaders to argue strongly for the maintenance of natural floodplain as the most effective manner of meeting socio-economic needs of rural people.

11. In Florida, USA, elevated phosphorous levels released in drainage waters from the Everglades agricultural area have led to reduced water quality and plant community and wildlife changes in the unconverted marsh ecosystem to the extent that threatens the pristine communities within the National Park.

12. In Guyana, construction of sea defences favoured breeding of mosquitoes by preventing flooding by sea water, thus increasing rates of malaria infection among children from 0-5 percent to 14-78 percent. Similar phenomena have been recorded in Java, Panama and Puerto Rico.

13. Different terms are used to refer to the concept of "strategic" or "integrated" planning; ICAM is the terminology used in Agenda 21 of the Earth summit.

14. If needed, Wetlands International has an Economic Assessment of Wetlands Functions and Values Specialist Group that could assist in economic valuation of wetlands.


Dugan Patrick (ed.), 1990. Wetland Conservation. A Review of Current Issues and Required Action. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland (190 pp.).

Dugan, Patrick (ed.), 1993. Wetlands in Danger. A Mitchell Beazley World Conservation Atlas, in association with the IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Reed International Books Limited, London, UK (96 pp.).

FAO, 1998. Fishery Country Profile, Republic of Korea (FID/CP/KOR). FAO Fisheries Department, January 1998.

FAO/UNDP, 1999. An Environmentally sound and Sustainable Development Model of the Rural Farmland and Agricultural Resources in Taeho Agricultural Tideland (ROK/98/006). Advisory Report on the FAO/UNDP Mission, 26 April-7 May 1999.

Scialabba, Nadia (ed.), 1998. Integrated Coastal Area Management and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. FAO Guidelines. Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO, Rome. (256 pp.) http://www.fao.org/docrep/W8440e/W8440e00.htm

Smith, Robert Leo, 1977. Elements of Ecology and Field Biology. Harper and Row Publishers, N.Y. (497 pp.)

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