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A Synthesis: Wetlands as Settings for Human Health

  • C Max Finlayson
  • Pierre Horwitz
  • Phillip Weinstein
Chapter
Part of the Wetlands: Ecology, Conservation and Management book series (WECM, volume 5)

Abstract

The interactions between wetlands and people have been explored in this book through the treatment of ecological and human health and well-being issues for both wetland management and public health practitioners. This recognises that both sectors have reciprocal and important roles to play in ensuring that the benefits provided by wetlands are maintained and even enhanced. Examples are given of the benefits for human health and well-being derived from wetlands, as well as the potential for adverse outcomes if the ecological character of wetlands is not maintained when making decisions about wetlands and human health issues. The examples provide more resolution to what it means for a wetland to be ‘healthy’ with a proposition that wetland health should be based on social values and indicators that could be agreed through the following steps: establish the best possible reference condition, given acceptable land or water use; make judgements based on uses of human amenity derived from the wetland; acknowledge that restoration may be necessary, especially where wetland uses prove to be non-sustainable; and accept that changes in use/amenity can change the condition and hence perception of the health of the wetland.

The ‘settings’ approach for wetlands is promoted whereby the wetland is the ‘setting’ in which people “take care of each other, our communities and our natural environment”. The setting also includes the institutional and governmental aspects required to deliver health services, to address health inequalities, and to intervene for public health. The key message from this book is that wetlands (as places of water on land, and where water shapes the land), and human health (which in its richest sense addresses the well-being of people, beyond ill-health or the absence of disease), are interconnected and to a certain extent interdependent. Maintaining or restoring wetlands can promote the ecosystem services that support the many benefits that provide vital support for human health and well-being.

Keywords

Wetland settings Ramsar convention Wise use Disease Public health Food pollution Livelihoods Disasters Guidance Intervention Management 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • C Max Finlayson
    • 1
    • 4
  • Pierre Horwitz
    • 2
  • Phillip Weinstein
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Land, Water and SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Natural SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands

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