The Source, Annual Review 2020

Staff profile

The most important part of the Global Mangrove Watch platform and alerts is getting the data in front of decision makers

What is the nicest thing about working at Wetlands International? That would be understanding your role in the bigger picture and then working together as a team to achieve programmatic and organisational goals and objectives. I love that I can steer the communications function fully, giving ownership to results, achievements and lessons learned. The knowledge and expertise within the organisation is extensive and colleagues are always willing to share what they know. For example, within three months, I had learned loads about mangroves and their ecosystems and integrated water resources management, which is a whole new life! Learning is continuous here and that’s big for me! What do you want to achieve in 2021? Working in close collaboration with colleagues, I hope to positively contribute to the communities that live in and derive basic services from wetlands in this region. Besides that, I would like to raise the profile of our work and the substantive role of wetlands in the socio-economic, political and cultural well-being of the communities we work with. Finally, in the longer term, I hope to pursue innovative ways to engage the youth, whose energy, power and creativity in restoring our environment is urgently needed, while borrowing from the wisdom of elders who have always been the custodians of Africa’s wetlands. What is your favourite species and why? Tough question! I have loved cats since childhood, with my wild favourite being the leopard. Nonetheless, I remain both intrigued and terrified by sea creatures such as the octopus and have a never-ending fascination for birds. Isn’t it phenomenal and profound how each species fits snugly into the cog of life and that there is still so much we don’t know?

Elizabeth Wamba Regional Communications Officer Office: East Africa

Who is Elizabeth Wamba? I grew up and studied in Kenya. I had a brief stint as a journalist before venturing into corporate communications. I had always been interested in nature and wildlife conservation turned out to be more than indulging in a hobby. Field work was a constant breath of fresh air – from driving through Africa’s iconic national parks and reserves teeming with diverse wildlife and vegetation to the occasional sail into marine parks. I was intrigued not just by biodiversity, but also the linkages to communities and the intricate, delicate and sometimes unique relationships between humans and nature. In my current role as Regional Communications Officer for Eastern Africa, I explore the wetland ecosystems of the region and the lives they support with the same eagerness and excitement. What was your biggest personal work achievement in 2020? This must be joining Wetlands International at the onset of an unknown and growing pandemic and having to learn and work under strict containment measures. Despite these challenges, the support from my colleagues in programmes and communications smoothened the transition. I learned new terminology and concepts specific to wetland ecosystems. I was also able to pick up communications work after a nine-month gap and offer much-needed support to our programmatic objectives.

The Global Mangrove Watch tracks changes in mangrove cover over time, such as this loss of mangrove cover in Samarinda, Indonesia, between 1996 and 2016.

So what happened after the GMW alert in Guinea-Bissau? The team investigating the alert found that the mangrove swamp was being turned by villagers into a rice field. But it was entirely legal, part of a government plan to promote food security in poor communities. “We cannot intervene,” Sa’s mission reported. “But we hope we have sensitized the state authorities so they will reduce future proliferation of rice fields in mangrove areas.” It was a frustrating end to the episode, says de Boer. But Pete Bunting of Aberystwyth University agrees there is an upside. “The most important part of the GMW platform and alerts is getting the data in front of decision makers.”

Partners Aberystwyth University soloEO The Nature Conservancy NASA University of Cambridge

JAXA IUCN WWF Conservation International Griffith University Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Donors Oak Foundation COmON Foundation National Philantropic Trust DOB Ecology Dutch Postcode Lottery



Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

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