Synopses & Reviews
Along the shores of Lake Ontario, over 90 percent of wetlands in the area have been sacrificed to other land use needs. In the lower Mississippi valley, the floodplain forested wetlands, which once covered 39,000 square miles, now cover only 7,000 (the rest of the area was cleared to provide land for agriculture). For centuries, these marshes, floodplains, lagoons, deltas, and other wetland systems of the world have been perceived as wasteland, obstacles to the overriding need for agricultural and urban development. Yet wetlands are in fact home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life; their destruction has brought to the verge of extinction dozens of species of birds and other wildlife that flourish in these regions, as well as threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the wetlands' resources for their very survival. Now, in Wetlands in Danger
comes the most comprehensive coverage of these precious natural reserves--the dangers they face, and what we must do to preserve what remains of them.
This lavishly illustrated volume explores areas ranging from the extensive Prairie Pothole region of North America, to the floodplains of the inner Niger Delta, to the vast mangrove stands of South Asia. We see the remarkable animals that have adapted to life in the wetlands. The African lungfish, for instance, during periods of desiccation, not only has the ability to breathe air, but, burrowed in the mud, can slow its metabolic rate to conserve energy until the water rises again. And the crocodile, using its powerful jaws to trap its prey, can lose and replace 3000 teeth in its lifetime. We meet the people who have come to depend on the resources of the wetlands for their livelihood: the fisher-people of the Sudd, who live on mounds that have been built up from natural detritus over the years; the Imraguen fishermen who, using long poles to beat on the water of Africa's Banc d'Arguin, attract dolphin that drive mullet inshore and into their nets; and the Ma'dan (Marsh Arabs) of Iraq, who have lived in the marshes for over 5000 years, isolated from the rest of Iraq by the extensive wetlands. (Using the expansive reed beds of the area, the Ma'dan have constructed artificial island houses that float on the lakes.)
Wetlands also takes a look at the impact of wetlands loss on the people of these regions. By carefully monitoring threatened wetland regions, the IUCN (World Conservation Union) has revealed how the short-term gains of intensive agriculture, hydroelectricity, or other development projects may lead to the permanent loss of wetlands and their resources, and may destroy the livelihood of those people who depend on wetlands for pasture during dry season, and for their local fisheries. A multitude of up-to-date, full-color maps cover the wetlands region by region, providing information on the various types of wetland systems, wildlife, and vegetation in each area, and charting the course of conversion and degradation.
Written in conjunction with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Wetlands is not only a breathtaking view of the treasures of these plentiful areas, but a compelling call to reevaluate how our actions can affect the delicate ecological balance in these important regions.
About the Author
About the Editor
Patrick Dugan is the coordinator of IUCN's Wetlands Programme based in Gland, Switzerland. Prior to joining IUCN in 1984, Dr. Dugan worked on the conservation and management of wetlands in Northern Europe, the Mediterannean, and West Africa.