An Ecological Economics Approach
Edited by R. Kerry Turner, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Roy Brouwer
R.K. Turner, J.C.J.M. van den Bergh and R. Brouwer 1 WETLAND DEFINITIONS Wetlands provide many important services to human society, but are at the same time ecologically sensitive and adaptive systems. This explains why in recent years much attention has been directed towards the formulation and operation of sustainable management strategies for wetlands. Both natural and social sciences can contribute to an increased understanding of relevant processes and problems associated with such strategies. This volume examines the potential for systematic and formalized interdisciplinary rese arch on wetlands. Such potential lies in the integration of insights, methods and data drawn from natural and social sciences, as highlighted in previous integrated modelling and assessment surveys (Bingham et al., 1995). There is some disagreement among scientists on what constitutes a wetland, partly because of their highly dynamic character, and partly because of difficulties in defining their boundaries with any precision (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1993). For example, Dugan (1990) notes that there are more than 50 definitions in current use. Likewise, there is no universally agreed classification of wetland types. Classifications vary greatly in both form and nomenclature between regions; see Cowardin et al., (1979) for one influential classification system. Some features of wetlands, nonetheless, are clear. It is the predominance of water for some significant period of time and the qualitative and quantitative influence of the hydrological regime that characterizes and underlies the development of wetlands. The Ramsar Convention definition, widely accepted by governments and NGOs world-wide, is as follows: ‘areas of marsh,...