The Source, our Annual Review 2019

The Source 2019 Annual Review of Wetlands International

What are wetlands? Wetlands occur wherever water meets land – mangroves, peatlands, marshes, rivers, lakes, deltas, floodplains, flooded forests, rice-fields, and even coral reefs. Wetlands exist in every country across the world and every type of region – polar, tropical, wet, dry, high and low altitude. Healthy wetlands are key to restoring nature and healing our climate, yet the world has lost up to 65 per cent of its original wetlands. Urgent action is needed to reverse this decline and revive these natural wonders.


Our Vision A world where wetlands are treasured and nurtured for their beauty, the life they support and the resources they provide.

Our Mission To inspire and mobilise society to safeguard and restore wetlands for people and nature.

A Bayei fisherman in a mokoro, silhouetted by the midday sun, casts a long shadow on the waters of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Used in the book, Water Lands, Harper Collins 2020.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019








Restoring Mangroves

Wetlands on fire

Keizrul Abdullah










Annadel Salvio Cabanban


Titus Wamea

Menno de Boer





From our CEO Achievements From the supervisory council Hasting Chikoko Michael Succow Wetlands for a safer world Offices map Streams of work Flyways map Functioning of the organisation Summary of finance

6 8

38 40 43 56 76 78 80 82 90


Ramsar partners for wetlands

Managing drainage of tropical peatlands

Saving the marsh deer



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

FROM OUR CEO Jane Madgwick, CEO, Wetlands International

Given the precipitous decline in wetlands worldwide, highlighted by the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report, a priority for Wetlands International has been to design pathways to upscale our impact: from local habitat improvements to whole landscape transformation, developing local economies based on wetland values. In this annual review, you can find examples of how we are developing data-driven tools and capacities to help steer and mobilise on-ground interventions for impact at scale. You can also gain a sense of how we work in unusual partnerships across sectors to design and mobilise nature-based solutions at scale.

Wetlands International global leadership team came together in The Pantanal, Brazil, for its annual meeting 2019

and coasts, river and lake system and peatlands. I would like to say a huge thank you to those who gave their valuable advice and encouragement in this process. Your continued support and this new framing will help us to focus, to devel- op the organisation and our partnerships, with a renewed common purpose. Many plans were made in 2019 for the anticipated “su- per year” for nature in 2020, intended to drive forward a coherent global agenda to tackle climate change and to re-set global targets for biodiversity. With the post-2020 biodiversity framework in development, we raised the issue of the connectivity of wetlands being confined to protected islands, and advocated for the need for an additional target of restoration of 50% of the loss of wetlands over the last 50 years. Understandably, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to put the protection of human lives first, these pivot - al processes have been postponed. This raises uncertainty about political commitment and resourcing. But, there are signs of a revival of “listening to the science”. The growing recognition of the need for urgent climate action, and to heal the Earth by restoring ecosystem health, alongside human health is encouraging. We hope that there will now be an awakening to the inter-connectedness of people and nature that will lead to new, joined-up action.

“Nature-based solutions” such as restoring wetlands and forests were given a political boost in 2019, hailed by world leaders as necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our cities safe. At the Climate Action Summit in New York, hundreds of commitments were made by govern- ments, cities, companies, NGOs and individual champions. However, many were “add-on extras” to traditional infra- structure plans, or over-simplistic approaches such as plant- ing trees, rather than systemic solutions. What’s clear from this is that we have important work to do to mobilise socie- ty around nature-based solutions with healthy, functioning ecosystems at the centre, integrated with mainstream de- velopment and climate action. Our work over the last decades in peatlands, deltas, along coasts, rivers and their floodplains has yielded a mega-store of knowledge, tools and approaches, which can inform up- scaling and replication. This now needs to come to the fore. With this in mind, we contributed to the landmark publica- tion “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience” by the Global Center on Climate Adaptation and engaged strongly throughout the year advising on its Action Tracks. We announced three significant commitments linked to ambitious partnerships to elevate the role of wetlands in tackling issues of Asian coastal and city protection from

water risks and community resilience, peace and human security in the Sahel (see Blue Lifelines, page 68).

Wetlands International is playing a vital catalytic role in developing clear propositions for future large-scale public and private sector investment. Working as a key member of strategic partnerships like the Global Resilience Partnership, Ecoshape, Global Mangrove Alliance and Global Peatland Initiative, is a promising means to leverage these outcomes. In 2019, as for every five years, we reviewed our Strategic Intent and drafted the basis for a new ten-year direction. We consulted our stakeholders around the globe and held webinars to establish dialogue over the main adjustments needed to meet the emerging trends. Overall, we were encouraged to respond to emerging trends, be ambitious and to influence global agendas to enable more action for wetlands, while staying true to our roots. In November, we brought this all together in an extra-special, annual meeting of our global leadership team, held in the biggest wetland of the world, The Pantanal, Brazil, where we recently estab- lished an office and programme. As a result, our Strategic Intent 2020-2030 presents a re- vised mission and clarity on how we will work to scale up impact for healthy nature, resilient communities and to re- duce climate risks in three main wetland landscapes: deltas

Jane Madgwick, CEO, Wetlands International



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019


We have continued to integrate improved wetland management into socio-economic development, in the Upper Niger / Niger Delta, Upper Sourou sub-basins and increasingly in the Central Rift Valley in Ethiopia. In Mali, we helped ensure that future invest- ments in the Inner Niger Delta and Sourou Basin will be guided by priorities for wetlands that are now anchored in the new national water policy. By working with communities and establishing cooperative groups we have shown that wetland habitat can be restored alongside sustainable fishery management and rehabilitated local scale agricultural in- frastructure. We have successfully transferred this learning into a strategic plan for the res- toration and conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in the Inner Niger Delta. Human conflict continues to play significant role in the region, slowing the roll out of our programmes and the opportunities to scale up. However, regional and global development banks are starting to see wetland restoration as a way of increasing cooperation in and among countries. Blue Lifelines in the Desert Blue Lifelines in the Desert

This chapter presents the achievements realised by Wetlands International in 2019, together with its partners. We have organised these achievements along our five streams of work. As laid-out in our strategic intent 2015-2025 we developed targets that we aim to achieve by 2020. The section below summarises progress towards these targets.

Summary Below we assess our achievements in 2019 in the context of the five-year targets set for the five streams of work that enable us to chart our progress in implementing our strategic intent 2015-2020. As we will focus our action from 2020 on three streams of work (Deltas and Coasts, Rivers and Lakes, and Peatlands) our assessment at the end of this strategy period comprises results over five years of action. Achievements described are the result of our entire network working in collaboration with many other partners, locally and internationally. We focus on those achieve- ments for which the Wetlands International’s contribution was instrumental. In summary, there was significant progress in all streams towards the targets in 2019 and over the five-years since January 2015. We are on track to achieve or exceed our ambitions in nearly half of the targets. In the others sub- stantial progress has been made but more time is required to fully achieve the targets. Some of the stand-out achievements are seen in action to conserve or restore iconic wetlands for biodiversity, while bringing benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation and community livelihoods. While this is the case across all streams, most notable are the wetland priorities of the Inner Niger Delta being included in the Mali water policy and strategic plan for natural resources, restoring peat- lands in the Puna region of the High Andes, establishing a Ganges-wide floodplain restoration programme in India, and supporting the establishment of the Yellow Sea World Natural Heritage site in China.

There were key achievements that result from building co- operation with economic sectors and applying innovative wetland management techniques and financing mech - anisms that integrate wetland values into the economy. These include the mainstreaming of Building with Nature in Indonesia as a national priority in tackling acute coastal erosion and the multi-country interest in taking this ap- proach to the Asian scale, the payment for ecosystem ser- vices agreement secured in the Philippines, the inclusion of paludiculture (agriculture on wet peatland) as a support- ed land use in the Common agricultural policy of the Euro- pean Union, the launch of a water fund in the Sebou Basin in Morocco, and engaging a wide network of private sector actors to promote new commercial crops for re-wetted peatlands in Southeast Asia. Of course not everything went according to plan. Rising so- cial conflicts have held us back from field work, for exam - ple, in the Sahel. In our efforts to change damaging practic - es in Southeast Asian peatlands, we enabled positive steps in terms of the uptake of wise hydrological management of palm oil plantations on peatland, but were met with op- position from the pulp and paper industry on the roadmap for withdrawal from peatland cropping. We also suffered unexpected delays in obtaining government approval for new projects in several countries. Scaling-up our successes remains an overall challenge for the organisation that we plan to tackle systematically, di- rected by our new strategic Intent 2020-2030


On track to exceed target (we will achieve the target before 2020)

We expect to achieve the target by 2020

Substantial progress, but more time is needed to reach our target

So far, there is no significant overall progress

Improved status of at least 3 major wetland systems in the Sahel, as part of efforts to achieve sustainable and climate resilient development.

The situation is deteriorating and we can’t manage to make improvements



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Replenished water stores from mountains to sea Save and restore mountain water towers

We will exceed our target thanks to further government and multilateral investments com- mitted from GIZ and the Nile Basin Initiative to three major wetlands in the Nile Basin; Sango Bay - Minziro (Uganda and Tanzania), Sio-Site- ko (Kenya -Uganda) and Semiliki (Uganda/ DRC). In Kajiado County (Kenya) the local Water Resource User Association has secured in- vestment to improve the condition of their watershed. In the Sebou basin (Morocco), we worked with WWF as part of a wider partnership to launch a water fund -- the first of its kind in the Med - iterranean. In other watersheds we have helped create an enabling environment. We positively in- fluenced the policy and planning in Uganda, where all land titles in wetland areas have been cancelled, and in Debkhal Chaul basin, (India) where 15 villages have been engaged in basin scale integrated risk management. Replenished water stores from mountains to sea Water and food secure wetland communities

We made substantial progress but will need more time to reach the investment commit- ments of this target. In India, the set-up of a Ganges-wide wetlands restoration programme under the National Mission of Clean Ganga should lead to major investment along this iconic river. The Paraná-Paraguay Corridor programme (‘Corredor Azul’) piloted better livestock raising on 25,000 hectares. We produced an assessment of the impact of the ‘Hidrovía’ scheme for improved navigation along the river corridor which is used to influence in - vestments towards a more positive result for the river. In the Philippines we piloted nature-based solutions to reduce the risk of landslides, erosion and flooding along the Agusan River Basin. This is also being used to influence national policy for integrated river basin man- agement. Replenished water stores from mountains to sea Floodplains for safety and security

There is continued progress in 2019.

In the Puna region of the High Andes manage- ment and restoration actions implemented with local communities and local government have improved the status of 76,136 hectares of peatbogs and grazing marshes in two inter- nationally important wetland systems. A second phase of this programme has been secured that will expand the work in five locations and provide a springboard to work regionally and leverage funds for large-scale management and restoration in future. In the Himalayas we started engaging in small- er initiatives with the development of a fuller programme scheduled by the close of 2020.

Investments in resto- ration and sustainable management of high altitude wetlands in 2 ecoregions committed to by governments and International Finance Institutions.

Public and private in- vestment commitments in 6 watersheds to safeguard and restore freshwater wetlands as measures for water and food security.

Public and private investment commitments for 3 flagship landscape scale floodplain resto - ration programmes



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Vibrant Coasts and Deltas

Vibrant Coasts and Deltas Sustainable coastal production systems

Vibrant Coasts and Deltas

Vibrant Coasts and Deltas

Maintain intact coastal wetland environments

Degraded coastlines and heavily modified environments, including urban areas

Integrated management of deltas

We will exceed our target for uptake in three large-scale coastal planning initiatives.

Our work on promoting sustainable produc- tion systems has made substantial progress, as part of broader coastal zone management initiatives. In Demak Indonesia, the introduction of sus- tainable aquaculture practice, following the low external input sustainable aquaculture (LEISA) method increased household income of Indonesian farmers by 300% and reduced impacts from habitat conversion and pollu- tion. These areas have also become important breeding areas for thousands of waterbirds, especially herons. Similar results have been attained with the promotion of sustainable rice and cattle farm- ing practices in West Africa and Argentina respectively.

Action in ten key deltas is on track.

We are on track in implementing coastal wetland conservation strategies in Cacheu (Guinea-Bissau), Saloum-Niumi (Senegal and Gambia) and the Rufiji- Mafia-Kilwa seascape (Tanzania), and other regions, covering an area in excess of 150,000 hectares. In these regions, small scale community-based conservation and livelihoods measures are being upscaled and management plans are under development. Several of our corporate partners have shown interest to support the development of carbon projects to resource the conservation and restoration of mangroves to compensate for their carbon footprint. Among others we are exploring opportunities for developing such projects in Guinea-Bissau and Indonesia.

We participated in global and regional initia- tives that promote sustainable management of deltas and coastal areas. In coastal cities including Semarang, Panama City and Manila, we successfully integrated wetlands in urban development and flood risk reduction plans. In several rural deltas we developed integrat- ed management plans that support conser- vation and restoration of wetland ecosystem and sustainable management of water flows, including in the Paraná (Argentina), Rufiji (Tan - zania) and Saloum (Senegal) deltas. In 2019 we supported integration of wetland conservation and restoration in the Manila Bay master planning process. With the Indonesian government we devel- oped a roadmap to address soil subsidence problems along the northern coast of Java.

Our Building with Nature project in Indonesia emerged as a landmark initiative that shows how ‘building with nature’ can boost coastal resilience in rural and urban areas. Our out- reach has stimulated commitments to invest in nature-based solutions among national gov- ernment and multilateral agencies, including in Panama and the Philippines. We engaged the interest of governments in five countries in Asia to develop an ambitious programme that stimulates large-scale adop- tion of Building with Nature across the region. This offers opportunities to upscale impact beyond 2020.

A model for integrated wetland landscape man- agement involving conservation and pro- duction systems (rice, oil-palm and aquacul- ture) is implemented in 2 areas, contribut- ing to environmental and food security.

Building with Nature is mainstreamed in 3 landmark urban planning and hydraulic infrastructure develop- ments, enhancing com- munity resilience.

Healthy ecosystems sustain human popu- lations and biodiver- sity in 10 key deltas across the world.

High value coastal wetlands totalling at least 150,000 hectares are conserved and restored.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Peatland Treasures

Peatland Treasures

Peatland Treasures Develop and promote sustainable land-use on re-wetted peatlands

We have made progress to influence policy in four peatland regions. Together with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation and GIZ we developed guidance that provides govern- ments with the building blocks to include wet- lands in their UNFCCC Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) planning and reporting and we will work with the NDC Partnership and individual countries in 2020 to roll this out. In the Himalayas we mapped the presence of peat and used this to influence the Indian government’s NDC. We assessed the NDC potential of Nile Basin wetlands as a contribution to a wider pro- gramme of work with governments in the region. Protect and conserve the remaining intact peatlands

Rehabilitate and restore degraded peatlands

Restoration to reverse degradation is progress- ing steadily in two major peatland regions and at smaller scale in others. We provided technical advice to the Russian government regarding investments around Moscow, where about 100,000 hectares of peat has been rewetted to reduce fire risk. We supported the Indonesian Peatland Resto- ration Agency to restore more than 765,000 hectares through a mix of direct restoration and technical advice. We supported canal blocking to rewet and restore the Badas peat dome, Brunei, also reducing fire risk. With the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil we delivered training for wise hydrological management of oil palm plantations on peatland, however our roadmap towards sustainable peatland management for pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia was rejected by industry.

Although substantial progress has been made, more time will be needed for widespread uptake of paludiculture, or agriculture on wet peatlands. In Europe, we succeeded in our advocacy to have paludiculture included in the EU’s Com- mon Agricultural Policy post-2020 definitions which designates this as a supported land-use in 27 countries. Together with government and private sector actors we established the Paludiculture Forum for Southeast Asia and through this worked with 350 households where villagers planted 250 hectares with sago in Indonesia. The Indonesian Peatland Partnership Fund (IPPF) resulted in a further 3500 hectares of sustainable paludiculture development that supported improved community livelihoods in 17 villages.

Governments and key (peatland based) private sector invest in at least 5 peatland regions have reversed the degradation of over 3 million hec- tares of degraded peatlands (7% of the global area of degrad- ing peatlands) achiev- ing substantial GHG emission reductions.

Governments and key (peatland based) private sector (e.g. palm oil, pulp for paper, biofuels) as well as local commu- nities are actively pilot- ing or upscaling paludi- culture as an innovative means for sustainable and peatland landscape management and cli- mate change mitigation.

Governments and key private sector actors (drivers of conversion) in at least 4 key peatland regions have active pol- icies to avoid the devel- opment, conversion and degradation of intact peatlands.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Healthy Wetland Nature

Healthy Wetland Nature

We have made good progress in our contribu- tion to halt and reverse the loss of iconic wet- land habitat and species but need more time to achieve the target. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry adopted the International Waterbird Census as the monitoring modality for protect- ed areas. With our advice and advocacy, the Indian Gov- ernment’s National Action Plan for Conserva- tion of Migratory Birds and their habitats along the Central Asian flyway will steer action for conservation of iconic wetlands. In the Inner Niger Delta in Mali we helped four communities to establish plans that integrate the need and potential for ecosystem restora- tion to support climate change adaptation. In China, with national and international part- ners, we contributed to the ‘migratory bird sanctuaries’ along the Yellow Sea coast to Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I)” being formally designated as a World Natural Heritage site, helping safeguard one of the largest intertidal mudflat systems in the world. Halt and reverse the loss of wetland habitat and species

Investment in wetlands as natural capital

We have seen encouraging achievements in 2019 and are on track. We worked with key platforms such as the Global Center for Adap- tation and the Global Resilience Partnership to build political will and private sector interest in wetland nature-based solutions. In Indonesia the government has invested significantly in the ‘Building with Nature’ ap - proach across the country to address coastal erosion (see also Vibrant Coasts and Deltas, pages 12-13). In Argentina, an agreement was reached with the government on the how to develop guide- lines for environmental impact assessments in wetland landscapes to reduce the impact of infrastructure developments along the Corre- dor Azul. Cagayan de Oro became the first city in the Philippines to approve and adopt a river basin-wide Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) and annually earmark PHP 10 million to support the rehabilitation of watersheds. With The Nature Conservancy we developed green infrastructure measures, including re- forestation and constructed wetlands, in the Upper Juan Diaz basin that can reduce flood risk in downstream neighbourhoods. These were recognised by Panama City and a multi- lateral development bank as part of a larger $100 million investment.

The extent and quali - ty of habitat has been improved in 5 iconic wetland ecoregions worldwide and the conservation status of 10 flagship species has been improved.

Showcase public and private invest- ments in wetlands as Natural Capital deliver sustainable development.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands International and partners commit for transformation at UN Climate Action Summit

The initiative will encourage countries and in- vestors to put local communities and wetland restoration at the heart of sustainable devel- opment and climate adaptation measures. The aim is, by end 2030, to have restored and safeguarded 20 million hectares of wetlands in at least six major wetland systems, so im- proving the adaptive capacity and security of around 10 million people across the Sahel. Building with Nature is a way of planning, de- signing and building coastal, river and delta infrastructure that works with nature and nat- ural processes rather than building in or fight - ing against nature. Buoyed by the successful mainstreaming of Building with Nature in Indonesia, the partners for Building with Na- ture Asia’ are developing propositions for the implementation of Building with Nature in 15 landscapes in five countries by 2030, boosting the resilience of around 30 million people. A Shared Ambition on ‘Accelerating Adapta- tion through Building with Nature in Asia’ was presented by EcoShape and Wetlands Interna- tional during the ‘Building a Resilient Future’ event on 22 September in New York, convened by the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP). During the GRP day of events, Wetlands Inter- national and One Architecture made public their joint commitment on climate-resilient cities, working together to integrate wetlands in the urban landscape. The overarching goal is to build more resilient, and livable-, cities across Asia.

The focus of the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 was to generate concrete proposals that can be accelerated for climate action. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for tangible plans that will help countries reach the scale and speed of mitigation, adaptation and resilience needed to deal with the climate emergency. The summit elevated political attention to the power of Nature-Based Solu- tions (NBS) for climate and sustainable devel- opment. The CEO of Wetlands International, Jane Madg- wick, was honoured to be an invited speaker in the Nature-based Solutions day of the Summit, where the NBS for Climate Manifes- to was launched. She called attention to the need and opportunities to focus on water and wetland NBS, alongside forests and introduced Wetlands International’s ambitious plans with partners to tackle land degradation and water insecurity in the Sahel and to enhance coastal resilience in Asia. These commitments are included in the nearly 200 initiatives and best practices from around the world, featured in the NBS Contributions Platform. The “Blue Lifelines for a Secure Sahel“ (BLiSS) initiative, a broad collaboration led by Wet- lands International, involving the African Un- ion Great Green Wall Initiative and CARE, aims to enable investments and action to revive and safeguard the region’s rivers, floodplains, lakes, deltas and ponds — improving water and food security, restoring peace and build- ing resilience for communities.

With global emissions are reaching record levels and showing no sign of peaking, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all leaders to come to New York on 23 September for the Climate Action Summit with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019


No system of concrete coastal defences is as cheap or as effective as a belt of mangroves. The Mangrove Capital Africa programme works across three major sites with the aim to restore more than a million hectares of African mangroves. A joint management plan for the Rufiji delta, Tanzania, puts villagers at its heart, creating a partnership in which their skills and local agency can be deployed for conservation. Developing alternative livelihoods, including oyster farming and honey production, helps ease pressure on the mangroves.


By Fred Pearce

Mangroves are backwaters. Neither land nor ocean, they are where seawater and freshwater, silt and salt, mingle in creeks and swamps. To many, these ecological backwaters are seen as economic and social backwaters too, ripe for economic development to advance the lives of their inhabitants. That is a big mistake, one that Wetlands International is working hard to correct. Ecologically, mangroves are immensely rich habitats, providing valuable services. The tangled roots of most mangrove species are nurseries for an estimated tenth of all marine life. And in a world of ever more intense tropical storms, eroding currents and rising sea levels, their dense roots and foliage are vital defences for the land against wind and waves.

Healthy functioning mangroves are vital habitats above and below water.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Mangrove kingfisher

Livelihoods, such as this fisher’s, depend on mangroves.

away. “We used to designate where and how many trees could be harvested,” Salelie says. It largely worked, as the survival of large areas of mangroves in the delta shows. But he complains that his village committee, like the oth- ers in the delta, no longer has the legal power to prevent outsiders from coming in. The Tanzanian government has banned all use of mangrove products. This makes villagers and outsiders alike into outlaws. This, he says, is a mistake. With the laws policed by a Forest Service that has only five staff and a single fibreglass boat to cover the 53,000-hec - tare delta, the result is a legal vacuum. Tensions have risen. In 2019, we were working to bridge the gap between the Forest Service and the villagers, by bringing all sides to- gether to draw up a joint management plan for the delta. It will divide the delta into zones that will protect mangroves while making sure villages can use the resources and sus- tain their livelihoods. Crucially, it will put the villagers at its heart, creating a partnership in which their skills and local agency can be deployed in the name of conservation. And we want to go beyond conservation to restoration in the delta. In 2019, we began a pilot project for com- munity-based ecological mangrove restoration, digging channels to flood abandoned rice fields that have recently

No system of concrete coastal defences is as cheap or as effective as a belt of mangroves. No prawn pond is as productive as the mangroves that they often replace. No human-made fish nursery will deliver as much as a thicket of mangroves. And nobody knows how to conserve and prosper from mangroves as well as their inhabitants -- such as the 48,000 people with whom we work in 19 villages dotted across the Rufiji delta in Tanzania, East Africa’s larg - est mangrove forest. “Everything in our lives depends on the mangroves,” says Yusuph Salelie, the chair of the delta’s Mfisini village. “Our houses are built of mangroves; the fish we catch live in mangrove roots; the mangroves clean our air; we even get salt from the mangrove areas.” Through the centuries, Salelie’s people have learned how to profit from those resources without destroying them. But in recent times, this cut-off delta region has become increasingly threatened by the modern world -- by man- grove cutting for timber, by rice farming, and by would-be external investment for big farms and cattle ranching, ur- ban development and harbours.

The delta’s villages have traditionally operated their own laws for policing their mangroves and keeping outsiders

Container vessel in port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Rifiji delta region has become increasingly threatened by urban development and harbours



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Natural restoration is much more effective than planting

We combine this knowhow with incentivising communities to protect the spaces where the mangroves can grow, by offering a deal in which communal work on ecosystem management is recompensed with microcredit and training for local development projects. Our flagship programme is Mangrove Capital Africa, a ten-year initiative we began with DOB Ecology, a Dutch environmental philanthropy group. It builds on a three-year project in the Cacheu River National Park in Guinea Bissau, funded by the Turing Foundation, which has the largest dense assemblage of mangroves in West Africa, and in which several hundreds of mangroves have been restored. With this new initiative, the work is upscaled to the Saloum Delta on the border between Senegal and Gambia, as well as the Rufiji Delta in Tanzania. An assessment during the year found that more than 11,000 people in the Saloum delta had increased their incomes thanks to credit we advanced for small-scale pro- jects such as beekeeping and home gardening activities. In return they abandoned over-fishing and excessive harvest - ing of many mangroves for firewood.

been taken over by cattle herders. The aim is to scale this up in 2020 to restore 200 hectares ourselves, and to train villagers to do more. We are also working, initially with six villages, on developing alternative livelihoods to ease pres- sure on the mangroves, including oyster farming and honey production. Our work on the Rufiji delta is the latest example of our innovative efforts to protect and restore mangroves across the tropics. We have won a reputation for encouraging natural regeneration rather than the planting projects more widely adopted. Research has shown that planting man- groves has a very low success rate. Typically, 80 per cent or more fail to grow, either because they are the wrong spe- cies or because coastal conditions are wrong. “Natural restoration is much more effective than planting,” says our technical officer for deltas and coasts, Menno de Boer. This is possible because in most mangrove regions there are still fruits and propagules floating in tidal waters. Given the chance, they will settle in the mud and grow of their own accord. Our aim is to give them that chance, through ecosystem management that reduces erosion, prevents the encroachment of aquaculture, and provides a stable coastline for regeneration.

To bolster public support for this work, we reached more of the 100,000 people living in and around the Saloum

One of the values of mangroves is that they function as fish nurseries.


Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Everything in our lives depends on the mangroves


Who is Annadel Cabanban? I’m the eldest of six kids, and so I have five younger broth - ers and sisters. I’m happy that I am back in the Philippines and I can now celebrate birthdays with them. I worked in academia until 2016. Afterwards, I started working for non-governmental organisations in both Malaysia and the Philippines. I have also worked for the United Nations En- vironment Programme in Thailand and the United Nations Office for Project Services in the Philippines. As a marine biologist, I feel honoured to be working in the Philippines on coastal and marine conservation, especially as I am a recipient of scholarships from the Philippines and Australia. Working for Wetlands International fits well with my philosophy, as it is an organisation that builds links between science and policy, and that has a mission to con- serve wetlands for people and nature. On a personal note, I enjoy reading autobiographies and watching courtroom dramas like Suits. This is my evening reward. I also like jazz. My favourite artists are Wynton Mar- salis, Ella Fitzerald, and Serafia. They are all great to me.

the draft Manila Bay Sustainable Development Masterplan. There is a wide expanse of wetlands there, like mudflats and mangrove forests. Unfortunately, they are heavily disturbed. Building with Nature, will protect parts of the coastline, prevent flooding, restore habitats of water birds and migratory birds, and rehabilitate habitats of fish, shrimps, shellfish, and crabs that are important for food. Because of our success with this, we are hopeful that the northern part of Manila Bay, which has a breathtaking amount of biodiversity, especially of migratory birds, will be invested in by the public and private sectors. What are your goals for 2020? In 2020, I would like us to strengthen some of the river ba- sin management councils in the Philippines. We can do this by providing them with the necessary business-planning skills so that they can raise funds for their respective inte- grated management plans. The goals of management plans is to rehabilitate the watershed so that it will continue to store water, reduce risks to flooding and landslides, and provide clean water to drink and to grow food. What is your favourite species? I have several favourite species, depending on the wetland. But if I had to pick one, it would be the angelfish. They’re colourful and beautiful.

delta during 2019 through our promotion of theatre, en- vironment clubs in schools and community radio to raise awareness about the value of mangroves, and instil pride in this natural heritage. More than 50 radio programmes were broadcast on 12 stations. The ultimate aim of Mangrove Capital Africa is to increase the ecological, social and economic value of more than a million hectares of African mangroves. We have global ambitions too. In 2019, with partners including NASA and geographers at Aberystwyth University in Wales, we pub- lished a series of maps of the world’s mangroves and their health. The maps have already been used to devise more restoration plans and to help countries report progress to- wards achieving several Sustainable Development Goals. For too long, mangroves have been ecological backwaters, ignored by forest and marine conservation communities alike. We are changing that.

Partners Aberystwyth University The Nature Conservancy (TNC) soloEO NASA JAXA The CSO platform University of Dakar The Tanzania Forest Service

Donors Turing Foundation Waterloo Foundation Otter fonds Oak foundation DOB Ecology

What was the most significant success you had in 2019 in the project?

Our most significant success was incorporating the ‘Build - ing with Nature’ approach as part of the integrated coastal management for the northern part of Manila Bay. This intervention in the northern part of Manila Bay is part of

For the entire list see Annex



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

STORY HIGHLIGHTS The rewetting of the Orshinsky Mokh peatland, Russia, means it is no longer a fire hazard. Katingan, Indonesia, one of the world’s largest peat-swamp forests with rich biodiversity, has become a showcase as the Indonesian government plans to restore 2.4 million hectares of damaged peatlands by the end of 2020. We worked with UN Food and Agriculture Organization on strategies for ‘wet agriculture’ on peat that minimises damage from drainage.


By Fred Pearce

The Orshinsky Mokh peatland is wet again. In 2019, after five years of effort, water levels have risen by a metre across an area of 65 square kilometres. It has been a triumph of ecological restoration. Like many other peatlands in the region around Moscow that had been partially drained for peat extraction, the bog had become a major fire hazard after extractors abandoned large areas in the early 1990s. “They used to have fires here all the time,” said Professor Vladimir Panov of the Tver State Technical University, who devised the rehabilitation of Orshinsky Mokh. “It was dry here till a year ago,” he said as we watched bulldozers move peat to block another drainage canal. “Now you can see the soil is getting waterlogged again. The reeds are new; sphagnum is spreading too.”

The wet Orshinsky Mokh near Moscow, Russia



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Tatiana Minayeva, project coordinator, PeatRus and Wetlands International Associate Expert

Eriophorum angustifolium, commonly known as common cottongrass is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family, Cyperaceae. Native to North America, North Asia, and Northern Europe, it grows on peat or acidic soils, in open wetland, heath or moorland.

helping herders restore their pastures and protect springs as water sources. In Borneo we have been masterminding the protection of one of Indonesia’s largest intact peat swamps in the face of encroaching loggers and palm oil companies, and in 2019 achieved success in restoring wa- ter levels on the Badas peat dome in Brunei, after blocking drainage canals. In Peru and Argentina we are beginning work on improving 760 square kilometres of high altitude peat bogs. Everywhere our work also involves securing the livelihoods of grazers and other people who use and har- vest them.

His work was part of a project to block hundreds of kilo- metres of drains, supervised by Wetlands International and known as “restoring peatlands in Russia”, or PeatRus. The initial aim was to prevent a repetition of devastating peat- land fires during the summer of 2010, by rewetting some 410 square kilometres of drained peatlands. Over the past decade, the vulnerability to fire has been reduced fourfold, and the mire has been put on a path to full restoration of its biodiversity and ability to store carbon, says Tatiana Minayeva, the project coordinator. With new international funding agreed in 2019, the plan is now to wet a total of 1400 square kilometres, with full eco- logical restoration of 350 square kilometres. From the snow-covered boreal peatlands of Russia to the swamp forests of the tropics, peat bogs are among the world’s largest natural stores of carbon – the result of vegetation accumulated in boggy ground over thousands of years. But they are menaced by agricultural drains, peat mining, forestry and overgrazing. Peatlands damaged by human activity already emit up to 8% of all anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions. Unless protected and restored, peatlands threaten to unleash carbon dioxide over the coming decades that could cause runaway climate change.


In early 2019, a dry El-Niño year on the tropical island of Borneo, there were huge fires extending across thousands of square kilometres of forests and peatlands. But they did not take hold in Katingan, on the south of the island, where for the past five years we have been providing technical input to protect 150,000 hectares of forested swamp. Two small fires crossed into the project area, but were swiftly doused by some of the 500 local villagers trained as fire - fighters under the project. It was a small but significant triumph.

The primary purpose of the Katingan conservation project is to lock up carbon. It is funded by carbon credits sold

So beside our work in Russia, we have been busy restoring peatlands across the world. In Mongolia, we have been

Tver oblast peatland in Russia during winter restoration activities.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Unless protected and restored peatlands threaten to unleash emissions that could accelerate

climate change

Beside its own successes, it has become a showcase for what can be achieved as the Indonesian government de- velops its own ambitions to restore 2.4 million hectares of damaged peatlands by the end of 2020.

to polluters to offset their emissions. But for the project, the area would have been turned into an industrial timber plantation. “The forests would have been destroyed and the peat swamps drained,” says David Stone of Permian Global, which manages the project in partnership with Wet- lands International and others. Stopping that prevented the release in to the atmosphere each year of an estimated 7.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – some from deforestation but most from the gradual oxidation of the drained peat. The carbon credits represent that gain. Happily, there is a major ecological gain too. Protecting one of the world’s largest peat-swamp forests and the several endangered species that live there in large numbers, in- cluding 3500 orangutans, 10,000 gibbons and 500 probos- cis monkeys. The year 2019 saw the project achieve financial security when Volkswagen and other companies bought its cred- its. But to ensure that the carbon stays put for centuries to come, it also needs acceptance from the 40,000 or so Dayaks and others who grow rice, tap rubber and cultivate rattan in the surrounding forests. To that end, project man- agers from Permian Global have sought agreements with the 34 surrounding villages, ensuring their land rights and helping them grow crops sustainably, as well as recruiting them as firefighters for the project.


Peatlands make up only around 3% of the world’s land surface, but they contain twice as much carbon as the world’s forests. The importance of their conservation and restoration is increasingly recognised in international cli- mate negotiations. Indonesia and Russia, which ratified the 2015 Paris agreement on fighting climate change in 2019, are among countries that plan to incorporate peatland pro- tection and restoration into their emissions reduction strat- egies. During 2019, we helped both countries to develop methodologies for accurately calculating emissions from peatlands; and we provided technical expertise to help more nations join them. Countries with great potential to benefit include Mongo - lia, where extensive peatlands overlaying permafrost are disappearing rapidly due to overgrazing, mining and agri- cultural expansion. We recently completed work with local herders there, piloting how to restore peat on their pas- tures. Further monitoring of this restoration, including its impact on carbon balance, integrated with a strategic plan for peatland in Mongolia we have also developed, will help

Protecting the Katingan peatswamp forest, Indonesia, has meant securing habitat for 3500 orangutans, 10,000 gibbons and 500 proboscis monkeys.


Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Agriculture can make use of peatlands

without draining


such projects to be included in the country’s future climate change commitments.

Who is Titus? My name is Titus Wamae. I work for Wetlands Internation- al as the Regional Policy and Advocacy Officer in Eastern Africa supporting programmes in South-Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda since 2016. The programmes include Partners for Resilience (PfR) II, Watershed-Empow- ering Citizens, and Mangrove Capital Africa among others. I am a certified Environmental Impact Assessment/Audit Expert and hold a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law, Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science and a PGD Environmental Journalism and Communication. Currently I am enrolled for a PhD in Environmental Law at the University of Nairobi. In 2010, I was honoured with the prestigious Kenya Head of State’s Commendation (HSC) presidential award by the President of the Republic of Ken- ya as recognition by the state for my contribution to envi- ronmental conservation and community development.

Assembly; civil society organisations such as Eye of Mercy, the War Widow Women Association; NGOs, the youth (mo- nyimijis) president; community representatives from nine payams/villages; and the private sector. KWWG is chaired by the Director General, State Ministry of Health and Environment and acts as the steering com- mittee for the development of the Kinnaite Wetlands Man- agement Plan to ensure sustainable wise use the Kinnaite wetlands resources.

Partners Greifswald University

Many peatlands are unlikely ever to be given over entirely to nature. So an important aspect of successful peatland conservation is finding ways to make productive agricultur - al use of them without draining. In 2019, we worked with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on strategies for helping peatland people grow new “wet crops”, a tech- nique known as paludiculture. Wet crops can include reeds for biomass burning, moss for horticulture, and in tropical regions such as Indonesia the cultivation of medicinal plants. One enticing possibility is growing swamp jelutung, a tree that produces a latex valua- ble in dentistry and for making chewing gum. It is reckoned to be potentially a more valuable crop than oil palm. During the year, we worked to include incentives for palu- diculture in the Common Agricultural Policy of the Europe- an Union, where drained peatlands contribute up to a quar- ter of agricultural emissions; in Russia, where we organised a round table to further ideas; and in Indonesia, where the government’s peatland restoration plans are unlikely to succeed without considering the needs of locals.

Institute of Forest Science Michael Succow Foundation

Ministry of Natural Resources and environment of Russian Federation

Mongolian Academy of Sciences

Russian Academy of Sciences

What is the nicest thing about working at Wetlands International?

The Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism

One of the things I love at Wetlands International is that we share a lot of information and knowledge with each other around the network. There is always someone available for consultation on a specific topic. Another thing is that we work with a clear focus, vision and mission. What do you want to achieve in 2020? The PfR programme ends in 2020. My main achievement would be my contribution in building community resil- ience against disasters and livelihood improvement in PfR focus areas in Kenya, South Sudan, and the Horn of Africa through community institutional and capacity strengthen- ing, lobbying and advocacy on policy formulation and im- plementation, risk-sensitive investments and practice.

Donors International Climate Initia- tive of the Federal Ministry for the Environment Japan Fund for Poverty Re- duction funds Managed by the Asian Development Bank Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the funds managed by the KFW bank

What was your biggest personal work achievement in 2019?

I facilitated the establishment of Kinnaite Wetlands Work- ing Group (KWWG) in Torit State in South Sudan. This is a multi-stakeholder forum that provides a platform to discuss wetlands management issues affecting the Kinnaite Water - shed. The forum is comprised of representatives from sen- ior Torit State government officials; members of the Health and Environment Committee of Torit State Legislative

For the entire list see Annex



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Page 1 Page 2-3 Page 4-5 Page 6-7 Page 8-9 Page 10-11 Page 12-13 Page 14-15 Page 16-17 Page 18-19 Page 20-21 Page 22-23 Page 24-25 Page 26-27 Page 28-29 Page 30-31 Page 32-33 Page 34-35 Page 36-37 Page 38-39 Page 40-41 Page 42-43 Page 44-45 Page 46-47 Page 48-49 Page 50-51 Page 52-53 Page 54-55 Page 56-57 Page 58-59 Page 60-61 Page 62-63 Page 64-65 Page 66-67 Page 68-69 Page 70-71 Page 72-73 Page 74-75 Page 76-77 Page 78-79 Page 80-81 Page 82-83 Page 84-85 Page 86-87 Page 88-89 Page 90-91 Page 92-93 Page 94

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online