EXCLUSIVE. In a forum published by Midi Libre, several associations and personalities warn about wetlands “that we continue”, despite their importance, “to be neglected”. A warning given during the climate and Ramsar COPs in Egypt and Switzerland.
The association Ramsar France, the French committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Tour du Valat (scientific foundation based in Arles) are at the initiative of a forum that calls for no more “neglect” of wetlands (peat bogs) , lakes, marshes, lagoons, rivers, mangroves, ponds, deltas, etc.), which are “our life insurance”.
The Ramsar France association, leader of sites registered in the Ramsar Convention (from the name of an Iranian city where the convention was signed in 1971), includes in Occitanie Camargue, the small Camargue gardoise, Palavasian ponds, coastal ponds de la Narbonnaise and the Salses-Leucate dam.
The text for the forum
“On the occasion of the climate and Ramsar COPs in Egypt and Switzerland, there is an urgent need to give new impetus to the protection of wetlands, which are true nature-based solutions to combat climate change and pollution. loss of biodiversity.
2022 is on track to break all records – temperatures, heat waves, droughts – in Europe, revealing the vulnerability of our agriculture, our forestry management, our energy mix and our economies in the face of these phenomena, long heralded by the scientific but bad expected.
The collapse of biodiversity
The Rhine, the Loire, the Po, but also the Yangtze or the Parana… so many once powerful rivers that this summer were just ghosts weaving their way through a bed of sediment torn by the sun. At the same time, reports are piling up that testify to the accelerating collapse of biodiversity, the living matter on the planet. The number of vertebrate populations on the planet has fallen by 69% since 1970, and this collapse reaches 83% for freshwater species, a sign of the massive destruction of wetlands.
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These two crises, climate and biodiversity, are closely linked and feed each other. They are the two facets of a systemic crisis that has its roots in our faulty relationship with the living world. A relationship “to nature”, to these millions of species of which we are an integral, dependent and united part.
It is in this context of unparalleled tension that an unprecedented series of international events dedicated to nature and climate is unfolding in a few weeks: the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to intergovernmental treaties on wetlands, climate, trade in species and finally biodiversity.
A unique opportunity
This sequence is a unique opportunity to take a freeze frame, question the commitments, ambitions and connections between these treaties… and give new impetus. There is no shortage of reasons for concern: the rate of disappearance of wetlands on the planet is not slowing down, despite repeated commitments from states; a recent UNEP climate report shows that the international community’s progress is “woefully insufficient” to chart a credible path towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement; on the biodiversity side, after the apparent failure of the Aïchi targets, which were supposed to initiate the recovery of biodiversity in the period 2011-2020, the new framework that is taking shape for the current decade looks too unambitious and still lacks a cruel state responsibility. mechanism.
Water too scarce to satisfy the various needs
Monopolization of water in the plains in megabasins or in the mountains to produce artificial snow, “swan song” by agricultural or tourism actors who refuse to adapt in the face of the inevitable. Impossible trade-offs between irrigation of crops, hydropower production, cooling of nuclear power plants, domestic or industrial use in relation to water that is too scarce to satisfy the various needs that our production and consumption models have accustomed us to.
It is urgent to change our behavior
It is urgent to accept the obvious, to rethink our relationship with water and living things, to change our behavior, which profoundly affects the great water cycle. Faced with growing needs and an availability of water that is less and less predictable and controllable, we must reinvent its uses and its sharing, leaving its fair share to nature. This nature, which we must no longer consider as an adjusting variable for our production systems, but as their base, as the foundation of our lives and our economies.
Wetlands: the most destroyed ecosystem on the planet
Wetlands, long perceived as unhealthy, are the most degraded ecosystem on the planet, declining three times faster than forests. But as they disappear, they turn out to be the ecosystem that contributes the most to humanity. More than a billion people directly depend on them for their existence, and many more benefit from their extraordinary powers. They are “nature’s kidneys” that clean the water that we pollute. Gigantic sponges, they capture increasingly erratic and often massive rainfall, attenuating floods, recharging groundwater and supporting river flows during longer and more intense droughts.
Massively restore wetlands
Hydrologists attest: The most efficient and sustainable way to store water and make it available for various purposes is to ensure that groundwater and wetlands are fully functional and connected. While societal challenges – food security, climate change, water supply, human health… – have never been more intense, there is an urgent need to protect and restore wetlands on a massive scale.
These are very effective solutions, inexpensive and offer several security benefits. Nature-based solutions. Our life insurance.
This forum is supported by Francis Hallé (botanist), Erik Orsenna (writer, member of the French Academy, president of the initiative for the future of great rivers), Françoise Nyssen (editor and former minister), Allain Bougrain Dubourg (president of the great rivers ). LPO), Jean Capitani (publisher), Vincent Munier (photographer), Charlélie Couture (artist), Stéphan Arnassant (responsible for the biodiversity and natural heritage unit of the Camargue Regional Natural Park), Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands, André Hoffmann (president) of Tour du Valat Foundation), Maja Hoffmann (LUMA Arles Foundation), Vera Michalski-Hoffmann (Tour du Valat Foundation), Jean Jalbert (General Manager of Tour du Valat), Emma Haziza (hydrologist), Jérôme Bignon (President of Tour du Valat Foundation ). Ramsar France), Maud Lelièvre (President of the French Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature), Frédérique Tuffnell (Vice-President of Ramsar France), Wolfgang Cramer (CNRS Biologist, Mediterranean Institute), Patrick Duncan (CNRS Biologist), Marc -André Selosse (biologist), Rémi Luglia (President of the National Society for the Protection of Nature), Véronique Andrieux (Director General of WWF France), Charlotte Meunier (President of the Nature Reserves) of France), Didier Babin (President of the French Committee for Man and Biosphere Programme), Didier Réault (President of Rivages de France), Jean-Marie Gilardeau (President of Forum des Marais Atlantiques), Luc Barbier (Vice-President of CEN Hauts de France), Laurent Godé (Secretary of Ramsar France) , Olivier Hubert (administrator of Ramsar France), Geneviève Magnon (president of the Peatlands Study Group), Michel Métais (president of the Rochefort-Océan Development Council) and Alain Salvi (delegated administrator of Federation of Conservatories of natural spaces).