Wetlands & Climate Change

With global rises in temperature and the increasing unpredictability of rainfall, climate change has the potential to have a major impact on wetlands, whose ecosystem services are tied closely to hydrological regimes. Yet wetlands can also play a play a vital role in buffering the wider effects of climate change on the human population.

The ability of some wetlands to store and regulate water supplies throughout dry periods means that they will become increasingly important in mitigating the effects of uneven rainfall, and can help maintain more stable flows in rivers than would otherwise be the case. Across most of Africa, wetlands have become a new agricultural frontier for many local communities as farmers seek to enhance their livelihood options for producing food under increasing variable climate conditions.

Wetlands also play a vital role in the carbon cycle. Wetland loss or degradation can result in the release of carbon, which may further exacerbate climate change. Consequently, understanding and raising awareness of the implications of wetland use and management for carbon sequestration is becoming increasingly important.

Wetland Action is committed to supporting activities that balance and sustain the ecosystem services from wetlands that can mitigate, and help local people adapt to, the impacts of climate change. Recent projects have explored the ways in which local communities in Africa can diversify their livelihoods and reduce their vulnerability to climate change through their involvement in community-based integrated wetland and catchment management practices which sustain regulating and provisioning services. These have been underpinned by Wetland Action’s research activities that have examined the social and physical dimensions of wetland utilisation in dynamic environments.