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Wetlands as a Water Source

Describe the role of wetlands as a water resource


Wetlands as a Water Source

Describe the role of wetlands as a water resource

Wetlands (n) (pl) 

Areas that are regularly saturated by surface water or groundwater, including freshwater marshes, swamps and bogs. [IB Guide]

Areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. [Article 1.1 of the Ramsar Convention text]. 

  1. Watch the above video and make notes on:
  • the importance of wetlands
  • the consequences of wetland destruction

  2. Research and make notes on the Ramsar Convention 

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Management Strategies

Evaluate the effectiveness of the management strategies that have been adopted in a major wetland

Management Strategies

Evaluate the effectiveness of the management strategies that have been adopted in a major wetland

1. Read "Why Manage Wetlands" in the article above.


case study: stung treng ramsar site, cambodia

Stung Treng Ramsar Site is situated on the Mekong River between the Lao border and Stung Treng town in Cambodia. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1999 because it contains a unique seasonally flooded riverine forest habitat, and is also home to the Irrawady Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris and the Mekong Giant Catfish Pangasianodon gigas.

More than 10,000 people live in or close to the Ramsar Site, and most of them rely on the Mekong for their food and livelihoods. Fish is the major source of protein and is also harvested to be sold. Many other species are also used, such as snails, crabs and frogs for food, and various plants for fuel wood, building, crafts and medicine. The regular flooding of the river supports rice farming using paddies.

The area is subject to a number of threats. Immigration is resulting in increased pressure on the wetland, with the clearance of land for agriculture and increased use of the natural resources. Upstream developments, such as hydro-electric dams and increasing water use by agriculture, are likely to change the river's flow regime, which will affect populations of fish and other aquatic biodiversity. Illegal harvesting activities such as fishing with explosives and collecting turtles and lizards are also having impacts. These pressures not only threaten the area's biodiversity, but also the livelihoods of the people who depend on it.

  1. Draw a sketch map showing the location of Stung Treng

stung treng management plan

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  • Collaboration with Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme
  • Documenting value of wetland biodiversity
  • Sharing information about value with local communities
  • Mapping of data collected to show value of wetland biodiversity
  • Providing information to local decision makers to allow then to take this into consideration when planning in the region
  • Community fisheries committee set up in each of the 21 villages
  • Restricting fishing in deep pools and creating fish conservation zones

exam practice

“Wetland management strategies are never a complete success.” Discuss this statement, with reference to one named major wetland. [10 marks]


mark scheme

Responses should clearly name, describe and locate one relevant major wetland. If more than one wetland is referred to, credit only the first.

Major wetlands include, for example, the Kissimee, the Mississippi Delta, the Norfolk Broads, but not small-scale ponds (award up to [6 marks] for an inappropriate scale of study if the discussion is good).

Strategies (there should be at least two included) should be clearly outlined with respect to why they were needed and what their aims were. Strategies can then be evaluated in terms of how successful they have been (or not). Good answers may approach the strategies from different perspectives (eg biodiversity, human water security, tourism, etc).

Answers that do not refer to a specific wetland should not proceed further than band C.

At band D, responses should describe one or more strategies for a major named wetland, and may assert success/failure.

For band E, there should be either greater detail of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of (at least two) strategies, or a more sophisticated discussion of the veracity of statement (but with less factual support).

At band F, expect both elements.