Background Papers on Wetland Values and Functions

Ramsar's Background Papers on Wetland Values and Functions provides information on several wetland functions, including economic valuations of specific wetlands throughout the world based on these functions. This site provides links to background papers on the following wetland functions: flood control, groundwater replenishment, shoreline stabilization and storm protection, sediment and nutrient retention and export, climate change mitigation, water purification, reservoirs of biodiversity, wetland products, recreation and tourism, and cultural value.

Participatory Management Clearinghouse

The Participatory Management Clearinghouse is a joint initiative of the Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), The World Conservation Untion (IUCN), and The Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA). The clearinghouse is classified thematically by ecosystems, regions, or themes. Posted documents, specific projects and case studies cover issues such as biodiversity and traditional knowledge, gender, water, equitable sharing, protected areas, and indigenous peoples. The new trend for the clearinghouse is a specific focus on participatory management and wetlands issues.

Aquatic and Wetland Plant Forum

The Aquatic and Wetland Plant Forum aims to facilitate exchange of ideas and information relating to the ecology, conservation, identification, taxonomy, and survey methods for wetland plants. The Forum website is built around a series of email lists covering various aquatic and wetland plant topics. Users can freely subscribe to these email lists or visit listserv archives from this web page.

ELI-Wetlands Listserv

The ELI-Wetlands Listserv is a free electronic forum on wetlands, floodplains, and coastal resources and provides an outlet for debate and dissemination of information on wetlands law, policy, science, and management. To subscribe to this list, send an email to

Global Peatland Database

The Global Peatland Database is continually updated with baseline information on the distribution, size, quality, ecological characteristics, carbon storage and biological diversity of peatlands. This database is currently searchable by country and disjunct areas and contested areas. Peatlands represent 50 to 70 percent of all wetlands and are globally important as carbon stores and sinks, storing more carbon than all the worlds forests.

Wetlands Helpline

The US Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Helpline acts as the first point of contact for the Agency's Wetlands Division and is designed to allow public access to water-related information. The Helpline is staffed by librarians providing in-depth, EPA-approved information, documents and referrals addressing Federal and State regulatory programs, wetlands science, and educational outreach. The Helpline maintains a catalog of documents that are mailed to requestors free of charge. The phone numbers for the Helpline are 1-800-832-7828 (US) and 202-566-1730 (International).

National Water Resource Plans

Integrated water resources planning implemented on a national basis can be the foundation for protection of water ecosystem services. This document gives a brief introduction and references to other documents within the ToolBox for Integrated Water Resources Management for developing a national program. The related links reference policy and legislative development, institution building and regulatory instruments.

Global Water Partnership ToolBox

The ToolBox for integrated water resource management is a source of policy development, organization building and financial mechanisms to assist decision makers and practitioners in creating policies for sustainable water resources management. The ToolBox is derived from experience and knowledge from implementing integrated water resources management, worldwide. The ToolBox also includes dozens of case studies, organizational listings, reference materials and useful web site links including an overview of water markets and incentive programs with related case studies and references.

The Business of Climate Change

'The Business of Climate Change' presents an analysis of corporate responses to the climate change issue. The book describes and assesses a number of recent business approaches that help to identify effective strategies and promote the dissemination of proactive corporate practices on climate change worldwide. By identifying the factors that cause companies to pursue low-carbon strategies and support the Kyoto process, the book will also be helpful to governments in formulating policy.

The Business of Climate Change is split into four sections: 'Introduction and overview' presents a broad perspective on business and climate policies. 'Policy instruments' outlines early experiences with different types of policy instruments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from emission trading to voluntary agreements. 'Sector analysis' assesses developments within sectors of industry that are likely to play an important role in future climate policies: oil, cement, chemical, automotive and insurance. Finally, 'Case studies' discusses bottom-up initiatives to combat climate change in five different organisations.

The Business of Climate Change: Corporate Responses to Kyoto

The Business of Climate Change presents a state-of-the-art analysis of corporate responses to the climate change issue. The book describes and assesses a number of recent business approaches that will help to identify effective strategies and promote the dissemination of proactive corporate practices on climate change worldwide. By identifying the factors that cause companies to pursue low-carbon strategies and support the Kyoto process, the book will also be helpful to governments in formulating policy.

Business and industry have a crucial role to play in the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. They are major emitters of greenhouse gases, and pressure is mounting for them to engage in a range of mitigation strategies, from emission inventorying and trading schemes to investments in low-carbon technologies. Behind the scenes a number of companies have started to develop strategies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

These strategies can be very diverse in nature. At a political level, companies try to influence policy implementation and, more specifically, to test ideas in anticipation of possible regulation on the climate change issue. At a more practical level, there are a burgeoning number of initiatives to conserve energy use in production, transportation and buildings, to develop renewable sources of energy, to measure carbon emissions and sequestration at a detailed level, and to develop various markets for trading carbon credits among companies and countries. Some technologies, such as hybrid cars and compact fluorescent lighting, are now market realities.

Common to all of these initiatives is that they operate in an environment of high complexity and uncertainty. The political implementation of the Kyoto Protocol remains uncertain and many details remain unspecified. Economic instruments such as emission trading are favoured, but their mechanisms are still hotly debated and the future price of credits is unknown. New markets for low-emission products and technologies are beginning to appear, but there are currently few regulatory drivers to assist their development. The impact of potential regulation on business will vary tremendously between companies and sectors. The fossil fuel and energy sectors fear the economics of action, while sectors such as insurance and agriculture fear the economics of inaction. Combined with the remaining uncertainties about what form climate change may take, corporate responses to reduce risks have to differentiate between sectors and have to be flexible. For individual companies, these big uncertainties demand new thinking and contingency planning.

The Business of Climate Change is split into four sections: ‘Introduction and overview’ presents a broad perspective on business and climate policies. ‘Policy instruments’ outlines early experiences with different types of policy instruments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from emission trading to voluntary agreements. ‘Sector analysis’ assesses developments within sectors of industry that are likely to play an important role in future climate policies: oil, cement, chemical, automotive and insurance. Finally, ‘Case studies’ discusses bottom-up initiatives to combat climate change in five different organisations.
This book will be essential reading for policy-makers searching for instruments that have proven business support; academics and researchers analysing the complexity of how business is responding to the challenge of climate change; and businesses wishing to learn about best practice in the sectors most likely to be seriously affected.

Evaluating the options for carbon sequestration

In this study, the authors look at biological and geological (or physiochemical) carbon sequestration. This paper summarizes and reviews global, European and UK estimates of the amount of carbon that could be sequestered in biomass (plants and soils) during the coming 50-100 years, and the amount of carbon emitted by burning fossil fuels that could be avoided by growing biomass for energy.

Managing carbon sinks by changing rotation length in European forests

Technical study looking at the efficiency of changing rotation length in managing the carbon stocks of different forests in Europe using he CO2FIX model. Specific objectives of the study were (1) to quantify the effects of rotation length on the carbon stocks of trees, soil and wood products and (2) to estimate the size of forest areas where rotation lengths need to be changed to accomplish the largest carbon sink eligible under Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol. The study also estimated the effects of the changed rotation lengths on harvest possibilities and considered the implications of the results for the reporting requirements of the sinks under the Kyoto Protocol.

Diminishing Biodiverse Returns

The article presents a skeptial view of the premise of the Third Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Asset and Benefit Sharing of the Convention on Biodiversity.

Carbon profiles of typical forests types across Europe assessed with CO2FIX

This technical paper presents for 16 typical forest types across Europe a standard carbon sequestration profile. The study was carried out with the model CO2FIX which was parameterized with local yield table data and additional required parameters. CO2FIX quantifies the carbon of the forest ecosystem–soil–wood products chain at the stand level. To avoid misleading results annual net sequestration rates are not presented here, because these strongly fluctuate in time. Therefore, only its advancing mean is presented as a more reliable indicator and to avoid a great deal of uncertainty for policy makers.

Companies and Regulators in Emissions Trading Programs

Much has been written about the economic and environmental performance of U.S. emissions trading programs for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Less explored have been the unique roles and interactions of environmental regulators and the companies they regulate in these programs. The paper uses examples from U.S. trading programs to illustrate the design and administrative features that allow program administrators and companies to best fulfill their respective roles. The paper also examines whether these features are present in the EU Emissions Trading System and analyzes the implications for its effectiveness.

Companies and Regulators in Emissions Trading Programs

From the introduction: "In brief, I find that companies participating in the U.S. sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) trading programs have developed internal structures to handle the significant complexities of flexible compliance planning and to manage both price and regulatory uncertainties. Regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed their internal structures to ensure consistency and environmental integrity, but also to improve administrative certainty for companies. Although regulatory uncertainties are often beyond the control of both program administrators and companies, the focus of both parties on a routine and predictable administrative program has been mutually beneficial and has led to a reasonably harmonious relationship between industry and program administrators.2 Although it is far too early to make any definitive conclusions about the EU ETS, I find that many of these same features are present. However, companies in the European Union face significantly greater uncertainty about future environmental requirements than did their U.S. counterparts. Moreover, it will be worth watching whether the flexible system of emissions reporting and verification for the EU ETS will provide the administrative certainty required for the efficient and effective operation of the program."

Privatization: Nature for Sale

This report, published by Friends of the Earth, discusses the impacts of privatisation of water supply and biodiversity on the poor throughout the world, especially women. This publication documents 34 cases describing what happens when the privatisation agenda is pushed through and the public sector leaves the exploitation and management of natural resources to the private sector.

PepsiCo Water Report

 The PepsiCo Water Report details progress on a set of goals organized around a straightforward premise: respecting the human right to water through world-class efficiency in operations, preserving water resources and enabling access to safe water.  This report includes information about PepsiCo’s water policies and management practicies, including support for water projects in developing countries, efforts to improve water use effiency, implementation of water accounting systems.

Coca-Cola Water Stewardship 2009-2010

The Coca Cola Water Stewardship report for 2009-2010 includes information on Coca Cola’s water use and efficiency, involvement in community water projects, and work to protect water source sustainability. Water stewardship efforts focus on three areas: improving water efficiency, recycling the water used in operations (wastewater treatment), and replenishment through community water access and watershed restoration and protection.

Business and Biodiversity Resource Centre

The Business and Biodiversity Resource Centre provides information on the important role that biodiversity plays in businesses. The resource centre illustrates how your sector may impact wildlife and nature, and what companies are doing to help conserve and manage biodiversity.

Romania Reforestation under WB Prototype Carbon Fund

The Romania Afforestation of Degraded Agricultural Land Project is supported by the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF). Under the Project, the National Forest Administration of Romania (NFA) is afforesting over 6,033 ha of State-owned degraded agricultural lowlands in 7 counties in the southwest and southeast of the Romanian Plain. In the southwest, the Project is stabilizing soils through the planting of semi-naturalized species. In the southeast, ecological reconstruction of 10 islets making up a natural park and Ramsar site in the Lower Danube (Small Island of Braila) are occurring through the planting of native species. Through excessive working and lack of investment in irrigation infrastructure and maintenance, the Project lands have become degraded and subject to erosion and are now uneconomic for crop production and are either used mainly for pasture or abandoned. The PCF has signed a long-term contract providing for the delivery of nearly 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) by the NFA to the PCF at an agreed price of US$ 3.60 per tCO2e.

Ramsar Data Gateway

The Gateway seeks to enhance the accessibility and utility of data on Ramsar sites by facilitating online access, sophisticated queries, and spatial data integration. The Gateway has been developed by CIESIN in collaboration with the Ramsar Bureau and Wetlands International. The Gateway provides access to data on 1,198 Ramsar sites designated as of August 30, 2002

Wetland Wizard

Wetland Wizard is an internet-based tool designed to allow wetland delineators document wetland plots. This tool allows practitioners to organize and save data in an online database, print, save, and edit wetland data from an internet browser, complete plant dominance and FAC neutral calculations, and search a plant database containing over 7,000 species. As of August 2004 Wetland Wizard was beta testing and free of charge.

The Compleat Botanica

The Compleat Botanica allows wetland managers develop checklists using an indicator and classification fields, monitor biodiversity with a plant-based inventory and share data and results.

Water Quality Trading Assessment Handbook

US, EPA Region 10 has developed this Handbook that will be useful to anyone interested in water quality trading markets in the US or abroad. It steps through how to assess suitability, financial attractiveness, market infrastructure and stakeholder readiness. This is a valuable tool for those look to establish or participate in water quality trading markets.

The World's Water 2005-2005

In this fourth volume of his highly regarded series, The World's Water, Gleick and his research team focus on the most significant current trends worldwide: how to meet the basic needs of over 1 billion people without access to clean water, the growing controversy over public vs. private water, the role of conservation and efficiency in solving water problems, and concerns about skyrocketing bottled water use.

How Much is an Ecosystem Worth?

The international community has committed itself to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national levels. Yet, despite growing awareness, and major efforts in all countries, the latest evidence indicates that biodiversity continues to be lost at a terrifying pace, resulting in what some call the greatest mass extinction since dinosaurs roamed the planet, 65 million years ago. A range of methods have been developed to value ecosystems, and the services they provide, as well as the costs of conservation. The methods available are increasingly sensitive, and robust, but they are often incorrectly used. One reason is poor understanding of the purposes of valuation and what questions it can, or cannot, answer. As a result, decision makers may get misleading guidance on the value of ecosystems, and their conservation. In this context, the Bank, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, and The Nature Conservancy have worked together to clarify the aims and uses of economic valuation, focusing on the types of questions that valuation can answer, and the type of valuation that is best suited to each purpose. This document is the result of that co-operation. It aims to provide guidance on how economic valuation can be used to address specific, policy-relevant questions about nature conservation.

Principles for Pro-Poor Payment Systems

Presentation to CARE/WWF workshop on Pro-Poor Payments for Environmental Services; Bogor, Indonesia. An outline of the basic element to making ecosystem services payments work for the poor.