What is the Ramsar concept of “wise use” of wetlands? What is the significance of Ramsar Convention in wetland conservation? (15 marks)

What is the Ramsar concept of “wise use” of wetlands? What is the significance of Ramsar Convention in wetland conservation? (15 marks)


  • Introduce with wetlands
  • Explain ‘wise use’ concept – ecological character, ecosystem approach and sustainable development
  • Explain significance of Ramsar Convention for wetland conservation
  • Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :

Wetlands are transitional zones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They periodically get inundated with water. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands. Wetlands are considered as biologically the most diverse of all ecosystems. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) is an international treaty designed to address global concerns regarding wetland loss and degradation.

“Wise use” of wetlands:

Wise use of wetlands is about maintaining wetland values and functions, while at the same time delivering services and benefits now and into the future, for human well-being. Wise use of wetlands is the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development. Thus, the three key elements of wise use are:

  • Ecological character, which is the combination of the ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services that characterise the wetland at a given point in time
  • Ecosystem approaches, which consider the complex relationships between every element of an ecosystem, and promote the integrated management of land, water and living resources (including humans)
  • Sustainable development, which is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.

Significance of Ramsar convention in conserving wetlands:

  • Listing important sites: The Convention encourages member countries to nominate sites that are important for ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological significance to the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites).
  • Obligations to conserve listed sites: Member countries are obliged to promote the conservation of Ramsar wetlands and wise use of all wetlands and work to ensure that Ramsar sites are managed to protect their ecological character.
  • Methods: They include restricting access to the majority portion of wetland areas, as well as educating the public to combat the misconception that wetlands are wastelands.
  • Support for conservation: The Ramsar Convention works closely International Organization Partners (IOPs), which support the work of the Convention by providing expert technical advice, helping implement field studies, and providing financial support.
  • Awareness: It raises public awareness about wetlands and promote their conservation and wise use.

In order to achieve sound decisions on wetland use and management, decision-makers at local, regional and national levels need to enable participation by relevant stakeholders and balance a variety of objectives and perspectives.

Subjects : Ecology and Environment