, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 185-192

First online:

Wetland classification and inventory: A summary

  • C. M. FinlaysonAffiliated withInternational Waterfowl & Wetland Research Bureau (IWRB)
  • , A. G. van der ValkAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, Iowa State University

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Regional, national and local wetland classifications have been developed and successfully applied. These have invariably been orientated towards conservation and management goals, and the information used to assess wetland loss or to assign management priorities. Existing national and regional classification systems have not only been useful, but they provide an essential base for developing an international system. At the international level, differences among existing systems in the definition of a wetland and how wetland types are defined assume great importance and need to be resolved. Classification is an essential prerequisite for wetland inventory. A number of international inventories have been undertaken, although these have not generally utilized the available high technology and data storage systems available through remote sensing and geographic information systems. More extensive international inventories will require standardization of techniques for data collection, storage and dissemination. A minimum data set needs to be defined with standards for data accuracy. An international committee under the auspices of an international agency (e.g. IWRB, Ramsar Bureau, IUCN) needs to be established to develop an international classification system and guidelines for carrying out a complete inventory of the world's wetlands.

Key words

Classification Conservation Inventory Management Wetland