Training-Workshop on Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services for Ramsar site managers

14 Nov, 2019

Wetlands offer many valuable ecosystem services for the society. There are numerous scientific approaches and tools to assess the biodiversity and ecosystem services of wetlands. However, many of them are resource intensive, requiring both data and time as well as human and financial resources, which is also the reason why some Ramsar site managers are unable to commission such studies. Recognising and demonstrating the values of ecosystem services is critical for integrated management planning of wetlands. In this context and in-line with the capacity development objective of the project, a three-day training on ‘Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services (RAWES)’ for Ramsar site managers in India was organised on 11-13 November 2019, at the Wetland Research and Training Centre, Chilika Development Authority, Odisha. Ramsar site managers from various states, including the project pilot sites – Bhitarkanika and Point Calimere, participated in the training.

The training was conducted by Mr Robert McInnes of RM Wetlands & Environment, United Kingdom, who along with Dr Mark Everard, developed the RAWES approach. Mr McInnes emphasised that it was important to understand ecosystem services in order to appreciate the ecological character of a wetland and for management planning. He highlighted the importance of supporting services which form the basis of provisioning, regulating and cultural services, and hence, should be included as a part of decision making. He also highlighted that ecosystem services can be only defined in the presence of a corresponding human beneficiary.

The RAWES approach is structured for easy use by wetland managers and is neither cost nor resource intensive. It is also subjective and recognises multiple benefits offered by the wetland. This approach was demonstrated at nine field sites during the three-day training, including various parts of Chilika Lake (a Ramsar site), to develop a better understanding of the magnitude and scale of benefit (local, regional and global), the importance of local knowledge for assessment, and seasonal changes in ecosystem services. The training equipped the Ramsar site managers with RAWES tool for updating Ramsar Information Sheet, communicating the value of wetlands, dialogue with stakeholders and management planning.