Commencing with a summary of the current status, importance and productivity of natural wetlands the contribution of wetland ecological functions to sustaining vital ecosystem services is then reviewed. Provisioning services, notably fish and water for irrigation or domestic and industrial purposes constitute important benefits derived by humanity from wetlands, whilst recognition is growing that supporting, regulating and cultural services supported by wetlands are critical for sustaining social-economic systems and ensuring human well-being.
This paper deals with a number of case studies that were undertaken during the last 8- 10 years in utilizing divergent ‘Tal’ wetland ecosystems (deep, semi-deep, temporary in a range of agro-ecological zones like NAZ, OAZ and Coastal Zone of the region) for the development of integrated management programmes using a range of approaches.
Bangladesh is rich in aquatic resources with extensive seasonal and perennial water bodies throughout the country. In the past, the expansive floodplains, oxbow lakes, beels, and haors were home to a vast range of fish species. Of the 260 fishes found in the inland waters of Bangladesh, 150 grow to a small size (maximum length of about 25 cm), and these are found in the wetlands.
Rural households who fail to gain a voice in decisions over the management of shared forests, pasturelands, wetlands and fisheries face heightened risks to their livelihoods, particularly as competition increases between existing and new user groups. Exclusion from decision-making increases vulnerability of rural households, making it more difficult for them to move out of poverty and thwarting broader efforts to achieve sustainable resource management. Poor rural women in particular often face institutionalized barriers to effective participation in resource management.
Small fish are a common food and an integral part of the everyday carbohydraterich diets of many population groups in poor countries. These populations also suffer from undernutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies – the hidden hunger. Small fish species, as well as the little oil, vegetables and spices with which they are cooked enhance diet diversity. Small fish are a rich source of animal protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Increased production of mola and other small fish can be achieved through stock enhancement and sustainable management of natural wetlands. Enhanced fish production can increase consumption and provide nutritional benefits, especially for women and young children, as they suffer from high rates of malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies. Mola and other small fish, which are eaten whole, have high contents of vitamins and minerals. In recent years, there has been a reduction in fish production and biodiversity in wetland areas of Bangladesh.
After commencing with a summary of the current status, importance and productivity of natural wetlands, the chapter reviews the contribution of wetland ecological functions to sustaining vital ecosystem services. Wetlands are vulnerable to a range of anthropogenic pressures, notably land use change, disruption to regional hydrological regimes as a result of abstraction and impoundment, pollution and excessive nutrient loading, the introduction of invasive species and overexploitation of biomass, plants and animals.
Settlement ponds are used to remove particulate and dissolved nutrients in Australian land-based aquaculture wastewater. At best, marine and brackish water settlement ponds reduce total suspended solids by 60%, but their efficiency is inconsistent. Functional improvements to nutrient removal systems are essential to provide uniform and predictable treatment of flow-through aquaculture wastewater. Furthermore, environmental regulation of discharge from intensive systems in Australia is increasing, providing the impetus to upgrade rudimentary single-step settlement pond systems.
The Mekong River is one of the great rivers of the world and is characterized by high fish biodiversity. A number of organizations are working at observing and protecting aquatic biodiversity in this hotspot of global importance. Among them are international organizations such as the WWF, Wetlands International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) but also regional institutions and national line agencies or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Cambodia's wetlands cover over 30 percent of the country’s land area and support one of the largest, most diverse and intensive freshwater fisheries in the world. In the flood season (July-February), the flood waters from the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake catchments create a vast open water system on Cambodia’s lowlands. During this period, inundated rice fields become open access fishing grounds for local villagers and migrant fishers.