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A Citizen Science State of the World’s Wetlands Survey


Citizen science is increasingly recognised as a valuable approach to improve the knowledge and understanding required for robust environmental management. We report on the results of a citizen science survey conducted on the status and trends of over 500 wetlands from across the globe. Whilst many wetlands were reported as being in fair or good ecological character state, many (particularly those already in a poor state) were reported as deteriorating. Although designated Ramsar Sites were reported as currently having a slightly better state than other wetlands, widespread deterioration of Ramsar Sites as well as other wetlands was reported. Significant regional differences were reported on the state of wetlands and their extent of improvement or deterioration. Large wetlands, particularly in Africa but also in Latin America and the Caribbean, were reported to be in a worse, and increasingly deteriorating, state than smaller wetlands in North America, Europe and Oceania. Numerous drivers are contributing to degradation and loss of wetlands. However, our data suggest that positive outcomes can be delivered where local community awareness, implementation of conservation measures, cultural values/traditions, tourism and forestry are proactively integrated in order to achieve the wise use of wetlands.

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Drafting of this paper was supported by funding from the Institute for Land, Water & Society, Charles Sturt University, Australia. Colleagues at Charles Sturt University, and Maria Grazia Bellio and Michael Mitchell in particular, are thanked for their contributions. Freya Stacey of WWT Consulting contributed invaluable support along with additional assistance from the following WWT interns and volunteers: Patricio Guerrero, Abdallah Khazene, Hongyun Wu and Luke Fletcher. We particularly thank the members of the SWS Ramsar Section for their discussions during SWS conferences that led to establishing this survey. SWS and World Wetland Network members are thanked for their assistance in disseminating the survey. All respondents are warmly thanked for their contributions, without which the authors would be devoid of any results.

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Correspondence to R. J. McInnes.

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McInnes, R.J., Davidson, N.C., Rostron, C.P. et al. A Citizen Science State of the World’s Wetlands Survey. Wetlands (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-020-01267-8

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  • Citizen science
  • Global assessment
  • Ecological character
  • Wetland status and trends