2 Apr 2012

Pacific told to stop abusing wetlands

5:41 am on 2 April 2012

A leading Pacific environmentalist says people need to stop dumping rubbish and treating wetlands as wastelands.

Palau has recently hosted conservationists from around the Pacific to prepare for the next Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in July.

The Pacific Regional Environment Programme's Ramsar officer, Vai Jungblut, says climate change is a critical threat to wetland ecosystems such as rivers, mangrove swamps and coral reefs.

He says it's important communities realise the ecological importance of wetlands and their role in sustaining plants, fisheries and human populations.

"When there's heavy rain, why is there flooding? When there's heavy rain, why is there rubbish in the bay? And so it's making the link between what they're doing and what's actually happening out there. So once they understand that link, I think thats' one of the most important things that would help to change their behaviour."

Vai Jungblut says the Palau meeting's action plan is a blueprint for countries to guide future research, monitoring, legislation, public awareness, funding and community engagement in wetland conservation.