Destruction of wetlands will add to the concern of global warming and climate change with the release of staggering 771 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, with devastating consequences.
Meeting in Cuiaba at the edge of South America’s Pantanal wetland on Monday, 700 experts from 28 nations at the 8th International Association of Ecology (Intecol) International Wetlands Conference will prescribe measures urgently needed to manage these vibrant ecosystems.
Global warming is speeding both rates of decomposition of trapped organic material and evaporation, while threatening critical sources of wetlands recharge by melting glaciers and reducing precipitation, reports IANS.
Covering just six per cent of earth’s surface, wetlands comprising marshes, peat bogs, swamps, river deltas, mangroves, tundra and lagoons, store 10-20 per cent of its terrestrial carbon.
Wetlands slow the decay of organic material trapped and locked away over the ages in low oxygen conditions.
Raising concern, United Nations University and Brazil’s Federal University of Mato Grasso (UFMT) Rector Paulo Speller said that if the decline of wetlands continues through human and climate change-related causes, scientists fear the release of carbon from these traditional sinks could compound the global warming problem significantly.
Some 60 per cent of wetlands worldwide—and up to 90 per cent in Europe—have been destroyed over the past century, not only due to drainage for agriculture but also through pollution, dams, canals, groundwater pumping, urban development and peat extraction.