Millions of people depend for their livelihoods on intact and functioning wetlands. Wetlands provide them with the main resources for their existence, such as water, food, and materials. In addition, they act as transport corridors and provide protection against floods, drought and saltwater intrusion. Sustainable development, therefore, means recognizing and integrating these environmental values and services into development plans and activities.
Unfortunately, the development and aid sector are not always aware of the values and services that wetlands deliver. Similarly, the environment and conservation sector seldom addresses the socio-economic development issues fundamental to sustain people’s livelihoods.
Initiatives are necessary to facilitate dialogue between these two sectors in the management of wetlands and their resources, to create and implement a common agenda to produce win-win solutions for biodiversity conservation and people’s livelihoods and development.
Wetlands cover more than 6% of the earth’s surface and have extremely important natural functions: they are biodiversity hotspots, help regulate regional ecosystems and play important roles in climate regulation.
Wetlands are also of crucial value to people. Because of the close interaction of water and land, wetlands are highly productive ecosystems with the potential to support large human populations. Many people in the developing world depend on wetlands to realize a sustainable livelihood.
As well as providing water, food, and materials, transport corridors and protection against flood, drought and saltwater intrusion (as stated above) wetlands also purify water supplies, sequester carbon dioxide and recharge groundwater reserves. More recently, through eco-tourism and new economic analyses such as rights, wetlands have become the focus of innovative conservation-based economic development and poverty reduction opportunities.
In addition to the many ecological amenities, functions, and values of wetlands crucial to people’s environmental and food security, wetlands also contribute to the cultural and spiritual needs of their inhabitants.
Wetlands are the most highly threatened of all ecosystems, and pressure on them is likely to intensify over the coming decades due to rapidly increasing water consumption, over-exploitation of natural resources and climate change.
Problems also result from the narrow approaches taken to economic development, economic subsidies which do not consider the link between ecosystem services and human livelihoods, or poorly formulated responses to poverty.
Unsustainable exploitation and the destruction of wetlands is often the result of poor planning, and a lack of recognition of the ecological, hydrological and economic functions and values associated with intact wetlands.
Policy and decision makers often lack awareness of the interconnection between functioning ecosystems and people’s livelihoods. or between environmental degradation and poverty. Regrettably, wetlands are often viewed as areas of little or no value, “wastelands” that are available for development or exploitation rather than a resource that, if managed properly, will make a significant contribution to the ecosystem and human health.
This is partly because the global biodiversity value of wetland areas is often not expressed in economic terms or social benefits. Another reason is that large-scale development plans are often driven by one sector (e.g. water and sanitation, hydro-electrical or transportation) whereas wetlands are multi-functional ecosystems that can serve a great variety of sectors and stakeholders if approached in a multi-sectoral manner. In addition, poor people often have no alternative to over-exploitation due to lack of any other means of existence.
Despite intentions to the contrary, wetlands are frequently improperly managed, leading to the destruction of environmental services and products and a subsequent escalation in poverty among those whose livelihoods are reliant on such products and services.
As a consequence of such mismanagement, the vulnerability of the poorest of the poor increases, leading to a further cyclical decline in opportunities for both environment and people.
With millions of people directly dependent on wetlands and wetland resources for their livelihoods, it is evident that protecting and restoring wetlands and their multi-functions can help assure people’s well-being, and contribute to reducing poverty and poverty vulnerability.
Although wetlands do not provide all that is needed for socially equitable development, there is strong evidence that poverty increases in wetlands that are degraded. Maintaining and restoring wetlands is therefore in the direct interest of the poor.
Reading Passage has five sections, A-F. Choose the most suitable heading for sections B-F from the list of headings below. Write the correct number, i-ix in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
ii. Promoting eco-tourism
iii. A lack of awareness and understanding
v. Re-housing local people
vi. Conservation and livelihoods
vii. Solutions and best practices
viii. Successful development of wetlands
ix. The value of wetlands
1. Paragraph B
2. Paragraph C
3. Paragraph D
4. Paragraph E
5. Paragraph F
Example Paragraph A Answer vi
Which FOUR of the following sentences match information in the text? Choose FOUR letters, A-J.
A. Wetlands prevent salt water from entering freshwater resources.
B. Wetlands attract millions of visitors.
C. Wetlands meet the physical and spiritual needs of their inhabitants.
D. Wetlands can generate substantial revenue for national economies.
E. Wetlands replenish supplies of freshwater.
F. Wetlands can be created out of wastelands.
G. Wetlands can provide natural products for sale by local businesses.
H. Wetlands provide habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species.
I. Wetlands are cheap to maintain in good condition.
J. Wetlands provide recreational facilities for people from nearby urban areas.
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-I, below.
10. Environmental organizations and aid organizations
11. Development plans
13. Poor wetland inhabitants
A. are often neglected by central governments.
B. do not always collaborate effectively.
C. often have no alternative to degrading the environment.
D. are often dominated by a single objective.
E. often fail to spend money where it is most needed.
F. often fail to appreciate the value of wetlands.
G. often protect endangered species.
Answers for the passage Wetlands
1 . IX
2 . IV
3 . III
4 . I
5 . VII
6 . A*
7 . C*
8 . E*
9 . H*
10 . B
11 . D
12 . H
13 . C