© Dimitris Poursanidis.
‘Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur’ – a friend in need is a friend indeed
This moment in time has seen us move from the somewhat more relaxed term ‘climate change’ to the much more urgent declaration of #ClimateCrisis or #ClimateEmergency – both hashtags now trending significantly on various social media platforms.
Amidst the panic, we’re looking for answers. And one ecosystem many take for granted, right in front of us, has long offered relatively straightforward solutions, based in their very nature, to what we face: wetlands offer holistic contributions to addressing the planetary crises through their various intrinsic functions and attributes – what scientists, and increasingly much of the concerned public, are now calling Nature-based Solutions, or NbS in our acronym-crazed world!
© Dimitris Poursanidis.
So why do wetlands represent such an important part of our defences against climate change?
Science tells us that the world’s wetlands currently make up for 40% of the carbon stored, reducing the level of these greenhouse gases which fuel excessive global warming. If wetlands are destroyed this carbon is released into the atmosphere and accelerates making the planet hotter – by the same token restoring wetlands helps sink more carbon, sequestering it safely outside of our atmosphere.
We have all witnessed the increased frequency of dramatic weather or what we call extreme weather events. Wetlands help our coastal communities cope with excessive water from the seas and skies which can cause flood damage and soil erosion while stocking water like a sponge for periods of drought.
With the inevitable rising of the sea, wetlands offer an effective buffer protecting coastal communities from the encroaching salt water, waves and wind which threaten the water they drink, and the land and lagoons they farm and fish. If they’re healthy, and left in a natural state, they help to naturally reduce these risks.
With climate change reducing the quantity and quality of the water we drink, already menaced by pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture, wetlands help filter, clean and store water. Given the Mediterranean’s increasing vulnerability to water shortages, this will play a powerful role in preserving what water we have. Wetlands-based fishing, agriculture and aquaculture, properly managed to be sustainable, can also play a role in low carbon nutrition reducing net emissions so aggravated by more conventional intensive agriculture.
This web of connections between climate risks and the inherent capacity of wetlands to mitigate them is largely unknown to the public. As Eylül Dizdaroğlu of WWF Turkey sees it,
“[There are] never-ending contradictions of traditional lifestyles and modernisation, results of socio-cultural transformations, ignorance of [the] public, lack of management by authorities, etc. However, the obvious fact binding these altogether and driving us to the solution is that it is all about what kind of a world we want to live inside. We can start to protect our wetlands by learning about them, defining the borders, by calling them with a name. Just like getting to know a person, when we know them deeper and recognize their needs, then we can make a change to help them.”
Life begins in wetlands.
Coastal wetlands have provided humanity with a wide range of benefits and life-enhancing qualities since the dawn of time. But now they’re disappearing at an alarming rate.
Our stories showcase Mediterranean coastal wetlands, the people who protect them, and the challenges they face.
Screenshot of the home page of the ''MedWetland Watchers'' appHelp us to preserve and restore Mediterranean wetlands - Become one of the MedWetland Watchers Coastal wetlands offer unique nature-based solutions to some of our most pressing challenges, and can benefit...
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