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Great Lakes Article:

Wetland ecosystems are part of our natural wealth. A recent assessment of the dollar value of our natural ecosystems estimated them at US$ 33 trillion.

The study estimated the global value of wetland ecosystems at an amazing US$ 14.9 trillion, 45% of the total.
The Ramsar Bureau
posted 01/25/2003

It is no accident that river valleys and their floodplains have been the focus of human civilisations for over 6,000 years – and that many other wetland systems have been equally critical to the development and survival of human communities. This simply reflects the key role that water and wetlands have played throughout human life. Our advancing technological skills may seem to have supplanted the role of Nature, but recent environmental catastrophes – floods, landslides, storms, many with their roots in unsustainable land use practices – suggest otherwise. The reality is that we still depend on our natural ecosystems to sustain us.

The multiple roles of wetland ecosystems and their value to humanity have been increasingly understood and documented in recent years. This has led to massive expenditures to restore lost or degraded hydrological and biological functions of wetlands. But it’s not enough – the race is on to improve practices on a significant global scale as the world's leaders try to cope with the accelerating water crisis and the effects of climate change. And this at a time when the world’s population is set to increase by 70 million every year for the next 20 years.

Global freshwater consumption rose sixfold between 1900 and 1995 – more than double the rate of population growth. One third of the world’s population today lives in countries already experiencing moderate to high water stress. By 2025, two out of every three people on Earth may well face life in water stressed conditions.

The ability of wetlands to adapt to changing conditions, and to accelerating rates of change, will be crucial to communities and wildlife everywhere as the full impact of climate change on our ecosystem lifelines is felt. Small wonder that there is worldwide focus on wetlands and their services to us.

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