The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is an international initiative to draw attention to the benefits of biodiversity. It focuses on the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and the benefits of action addressing these pressures. The TEEB initiative has brought together over five hundred authors and reviewers from across the continents in the fields of science, economics and policy.
Ecosystem services are the benefits that people, society and the economy receive from nature. For example: water provision and purification, flood and storm control, carbon storage and climate regulation, food and materials provision, scientific knowledge, recreation and tourism (MA, 2005a; TEEB, 2010; TEEB, 2011; see also Chapter 2). The TEEB initiative has demonstrated the usefulness of presenting evidence on the values of nature and targeting the messages to different audiences. Understanding and communicating the economic, social and cultural value of ecosystem services (many of which nature provides for “free”) is crucial to fostering better management, conservation and restoration practices.
TEEB Water and Wetlands
This TEEB for Water and Wetlands report underlines the fundamental importance of wetlands in the water cycle and in addressing water objectives reflected in the Rio+20 agreement, the Millennium Development Goals and forthcoming post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The report presents insights on both critical water-related ecosystem services and also on the wider ecosystem services from wetlands, in order to encourage additional policy momentum, business commitment, and investment in the conservation, restoration, and wise use of wetlands.
The coverage of different types of wetlands in this report follows the definition adopted in the text of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (see Box 1.1), so it includes both inland and coastal (near-shore marine) wetlands. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the multilateral environment agreement that embodies the commitments of its 163 Contracting Parties to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise” (or sustainable) use of wetlands in their territories (see Box 1.3).
TEEB Water and Wetlands aims to show how recognizing, demonstrating, and capturing the values of ecosystem services related to water and wetlands can lead to better informed, more efficient, and fairer decision making. Appreciating the values of wetlands to both society and the economy can help inform and facilitate political commitment to policy solutions.
Box 1.1 Wetlands - a definition
Wetlands are areas where the water table is at or near the surface level, or the land is covered by shallow water. The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as:
“areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres” (article 1.1).
Moreover wetlands “may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands” (article 2.1).
The Ramsar Classification of Wetland Types includes 42 types of wetlands, which belong to one of the three broad categories (Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2011):
- Inland wetlands;
- Marine/coastal wetlands;
- Human-made wetlands.
Human-made wetlands covered by the Ramsar Convention include aquaculture, farm ponds, and permanently or temporarily inundated agricultural land - such as rice paddies, salt pans, reservoirs, gravel pits, sewage farms and canals.
There are a range of other wetland classifications used for different purposes, based on hydrogeomorphology and/or vegetation characteristics, such as :
- Marine (coastal wetlands, including coastal lagoons, rocky shores and coral reefs);
- Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);
- Lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);
- Riverine (rivers and wetlands along rivers and streams); and
- Palustrine (marshes, swamps and bogs).