Wetlands, Agriculture and Poverty Reduction

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"Wetlands contribute in diverse ways to the livelihoods of millions of people. They are often inextricably linked to agricultural production systems. In many places, growing population, in conjunction with efforts to increase food security, is escalating pressure to expand agriculture within wetlands. The environmental impact of wetland agriculture can have profound social and economic repercussions for people dependent on ecosystem services other than those provided directly by agriculture. If wetlands are not used sustainably, the functions which support agriculture, as well as other food security and ecosystem services, including water-related services, are undermined. Currently, the basis for making decisions on the extent to which, and how, wetlands can be sustainably used for agriculture is weak. There is a dearth of knowledge on the best agricultural practices to be applied within different types of wetlands and a lack of understanding on how to establish appropriate management arrangements that will adequately safeguard important ecosystem services. Often, wetland policies are underpinned by a conservationist perspective that regards agriculture simply as a threat and disregards its important contribution to livelihoods. This report synthesizes findings from multidisciplinary studies conducted into sustainable wetland agriculture by IWMI and partners in Africa and Asia. It highlights the value of wetland agriculture for poverty reduction as well as the need for more systematic planning that takes into account trade-offs in the multiple services that wetlands provide."
wetlands, agriculture, ecosystems, poverty, food supply