A 50-year-old treaty could hold the key to better protecting our wetland ecosystems, while offering scientists a “how-to guide” for turning their research into action, according to an expert from The Australian National University (ANU).

Professor Jamie Pittock from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society says the world’s oldest conservation treaty, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, deserves a second look by those researching and advocating for better protections.

“While wetland ecosystems are among the most biodiverse, they are also among the most impacted by human exploitation,” Professor Pittock said.

“The 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention is an opportunity for us to ask what else we can do to protect them.”

In a new paper, Professor Pittock challenges scientists to do more to turn their findings into practical conservation measures, and apply pressure to those in power.

“To address the global loss of biodiversity, we scientists need to do more than document the problems and complain; we also need to take opportunities offered in this treaty and elsewhere to implement solutions,” Professor Pittock said.

The Ramsar Convention has 171 member nations and has flagged more than 2,000 wetlands of international importance, covering 255 million hectares.

Australia currently has 66 Wetlands of International Importance listed under the convention, covering over 8 million hectares, an area greater than Scotland or Tasmania.

According to Professor Pittock, some of these sites contain springs, peat swamps, lakes and mangroves that are especially important for threatened flora and fauna.

“This convention has particular provisions that allow scientists and environmental organisations to literally translate best practice science into conservation laws and protection for particular wetland sites,” he said.

Professor Pittock’s findings have been published in Conservation Biology.

You may also like

Article Card Image

Fishing in tandem brings benefits for people and dolphins 

Humans and bottlenose dolphins are working together to catch fish off the coast of Brazil.

Article Card Image

Fighting fires from space: how satellites and other tech could prevent catastrophic bushfires 

ANU researchers are using algorithms, drones and satellites to detect bushfires before they become natural disasters.

Article Card Image

Aussies snakes are undervalued: here’s how to be a friend from afar

We might not like it, but snakes are part of our environment - even in urban areas. We're often worried about what they might do to us, but have you thought about what we might do to them?

Subscribe to ANU Reporter

Anu Logo

+61 2 6125 5111

The Australian National University, Canberra

CRICOS Provider: 00120C

ABN: 52 234 063 906

EDX Logo
APRU Logo
IARU Logo
Group of eight Australia Logo