Wetlands are ecosystems that include inland waters, and coastal and marine areas. They offer a broad range of benefits to society and the economy. But similar to other ecosystems, wetlands are also facing threats that lead to the loss of wetland functions. Wetland degradation does not only negatively impact on biodiversity, but also on the livelihoods of communities residing within and adjacent to wetlands. Consequently, these impacts are experienced as well by the general populace who enjoys the benefits derived from wetlands.
Considering the multitude of development needs of the society, national and local governments are responsible in prioritizing sectors for the corresponding policy support and financial resources. Wetlands often receive less recognition due to the low awareness of policy and decision-makers on the value of wetlands and wetland ecosystem services. Thus, it is necessary to work towards improving the understanding and appreciation of policy and decision-makers with regard to wetland benefits.
In Ramsar COP11, Contracting Parties adopted Resolution XI.8 and agreed to revise the recording of information for the Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS) by elaborating and describing fully the elements of the ecological character and the ecosystems provided by the wetland.
In this context, the Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA), together with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and technical experts, has developed and is advocating a simple yet reliable approach for wetland managers: Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services (RAWES). By using RAWES, wetland managers can:
facilitate the integration of ecosystem services in wetland management plans,
help improve the effectiveness of wetland management with more comprehensive information at hand,
update and provide more detailed information on wetland ecosystem services in the RIS,
clearly define and disseminate the benefits of wetlands to key wetland stakeholders, especially to policy and decision-makers, and
have an alternative option to carry out an ecosystem services assessment that is not time-consuming and costly.