2017 World Wetland Survey

Participation In 2017, we received over 600 response to the survey, of which 541 were usable, from 92 counties in seven different languages. This gave us a great source of rich information, showing the knowledge and interest of local people about their wetlands.

It is no secret that wetlands are in trouble. However our survey revealed some drivers of that damage that are globally relevant, and more encouragingly the factors that are helping the world’s wetlands.

Most wetlands were reported to be in a fair state (45.7%) with a higher percentage in good state (30.2%) than in poor state (24.2%). Agricultural runoff, urban or industrial pollution, and species introductions standout as driving down the quality of wetlands.

On the other hand, the survey suggests that, overall, wetlands are benefiting from local community awareness, conservation measures, cultural values or traditions, tourism and forestry.  

Word-cloud of wetland drivers

Some of the places in the survey are Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention; some are not. Statistical analysis suggest this status neither improves nor damages the wetland, so it can take more than just recognition to help a wetland. In Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean in particular, the recognition of a wetland as important also needs community engagement, local cultural values, and biological conservation to make it work.

Video summary Lead scientist Professor Nick Davidson presented the 2017 findings in this scientific webinar to the East Asia-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

Journal article The lead scientists prepared an article: A Citizen Science State of the World’s Wetlands Survey about the survey for the academic journal Wetlands. This contains more detailed methodology and analysis. The journal requires paid access; you can also contact the lead authors via ResearchGate with requests for further information.

Why did we undertake this survey? Knowledge about the status and trends of the world’s remaining wetlands is very patchy and limited. To improve this knowledge, and to better inform wetland policy and decision-making, we conducted a simple worldwide questionnaire survey to gather better knowledge on the state of wetlands.

Who organised the survey? The survey is a collaborative initiative between the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS Ramsar Section), the World Wetland Network (WWN) and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), with the help of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

Do you have any questions? If you have any further questions about the survey, please contact Chris Rostron at the World Wetland Network.

And finally… Many thanks to everyone who completed the survey questionnaire.

Chris Rostron (WWN), Nick Davidson & Rob McInnes (SWS Ramsar Section), and Matthew Simpson (35 Percent)