Please see below a note about a workshop held by the Institute for Land, Water & Society (ILWS), Charles Sturt University at the Sydney Olympic Park, Australia.
Workshop on the rapid assessment of the ecological character of wetlands
‘Ecological character’ is a fundamental concept underpinning the Ramsar Convention’s ambition to deliver the wise use of wetlands. However, despite adopting a plethora of robust and valuable guidance, the Ramsar Convention has not developed an approach to rapidly assess the elements of ecological character (namely ecosystem components, processes and services).
Between 11th and 13th September, ILWS funded a three day workshop hosted by the Sydney Olympic Park Authority with the specific aim of developing a framework for the rapid assessment of the ecological character of wetlands. Coordinated by ILWS Adjunct Associate Professor Rob McInnes (RM Wetlands and Environment) and attended by the following ILWS staff and adjuncts, Professor Max Finlayson, Professor Nick Davidson (Davidson Environmental), Dr Swapan Paul (Sydney Olympic Park Authority), Dr Ritesh Kumar (Wetlands International South Asia), Professor Lijuan Cui and Dr Yinru Lei (Institute for Wetland Research, China Academy of Forestry), along with wetland experts Dr Samantha Capon (Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University), Dr David Rissik (BMT Management Consulting) and Ms Gayle Partridge (Department of Environment and Energy) from Australia, the workshop dissected the current understanding of wetland character and evaluated the existing approaches to assessment.
During the workshop, the emphasis shifted to reviewing the definition of ecological character, and interrogating whether the multiple values of wetlands were genuinely captured in the current construct and, therefore, were the existing approaches to delivering wise use fit for purpose. The workshop further investigated whether the dynamic linkages and interactions among the biotic, non-abiotic and human elements could be more clearly defined in order to move towards the development of a framework for the rapid assessment of the ecological character of wetlands. The objective of the such a framework would be to ensure that a systems view of wetlands, with values as the leverage point for evaluation, was developed.
The attendees at the workshop discussed the approach to developing a framework for the rapid assessment of wetland ecological character, given the need to embed further human values. The attendees as well as colleagues who were not able to attend the workshop intend to develop their ideas through the submission of a peer-reviewed paper, as well as working towards a tool-kit approach to the rapid assessment through the development of practical applications in inter alia India, China, Myanmar and Australia. As part of a longer-term road map they will investigate showcasing the outputs of the workshop at various international events including the INTECOL International Wetland Conference 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand; the Society of Wetland Scientists’ annual meeting in Quebec City, Canada in 2020; and potentially at the next Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP14) in China in 2021.
The participants are thanked for their arduous and insightful contributions to the workshop. In particular the Sydney Olympic Park Authority is thanked for providing the venue and assisting with logistics.