An Ecological Economics Approach
Edited by R. Kerry Turner, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Roy Brouwer
Chapter 9: Wetland Creation: Socio-Economic and Institutional Conditions for Collective Action
1 T. Söderqvist and T. Lindahl 1 INTRODUCTION Wetlands are today an uncommon feature in the main agricultural districts in Sweden. Although exact figures of the amount of wetlands converted to agricultural land are not available, it is estimated that peat land with a peat depth of at least 30 centimetres converted to arable land constituted about a quarter of the fourfold increase in arable land during the 19th century (Löfroth, 1991; SCB, 1996a). To what extent wetlands without peat, or with a peat depth of less than 30 centimetres, have been converted is not known with certainty. A substantial conversion is however likely to have taken place since 30–60 per cent of today’s arable land in the main agricultural regions is systematically pipe-drained (Löfroth, 1991; SCB, 1996b). The conversion of wetlands to agricultural land is not difficult to understand in view of the fact that there has always been a strong emphasis on increased and cost-effective food production in Swedish agriculture. However, in recent years increased attention is paid to the drawbacks of wetland loss. The goods and services provided by wetlands to society, such as nitrogen reduction and flood water detention, are more and more emphasized (Gren et al., 1994; Ewel, 1997; Mitsch and Gosselink, 2000; Turner et al., 2000). In Sweden, the role of wetlands in nitrogen reduction has been relatively well studied and has become well-known, in particular in the context of the deteriorating ecological conditions of the Baltic Sea and the...
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