An inventory of Greater Himalayan wetlands – A manual by ICIMOD

A wetland inventory can provide information to support national programmes and reporting requirements for other international treaties, the report says.

WetlandsThis manual by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) deals with an inventory of Greater Himalayan Wetlands and has been developed to assist governments, professionals, and the public to identify wetlands of national and international importance, and to serve as a basis for prioritising their conservation in conjunction with sustainable management of natural resources, in particular, water, fisheries and forestry, and national development initiatives.

  • There is a broad and growing consensus that wetlands are critically important ecosystems that provide locally and globally significant social, economic, and environmental benefits. Wetland inventory implementation is promoted by the Ramsar Convention (RCS 2006) as a means to -
  • identify the function and values of wetlands, including ecological, social and cultural values;
  • establish a baseline for measuring future change in wetlands’ functions and values;
  • identify where wetlands are and the priority sites for conservation;
  • provide a tool for planning and management at both practical and/or political levels; and
  • allow comparisons between wetlands and management procedures at different levels of management (local, national, and international).

Furthermore, a wetland inventory can provide information to support national programmes and reporting requirements for other international treaties, such as the conventions on biological diversity, migratory species, desertification, world heritage, and climate change. Thus, a wetland inventory can supply information for many purposes and involve many different stakeholders.

It is essential that any inventory provides information in a format readily usable by key stakeholders, and thus important that users of the information are consulted before any inventory is developed and implemented. The purpose of a wetland inventory and the manner in which the information will be used should be agreed between stakeholders before data collection commences.

The methodology for wetland inventory outlined in this manual uses a strategic and hierarchical approach of four levels to collect information. It is based on the Asian Wetland Inventory (AWI) developed by Wetlands International.

The methodology also takes advantage of new technologies of data acquisition (e.g., remote sensing), storage, and dissemination. These provide an effective tool for collecting information for the management of natural resources derived from, or dependent on, wetlands and for meeting national obligations under international agreements.

Entry and management of inventory data at Levels 1 (river basin) and 2 (sub-basin) can be done by a regional or national organisation, whereas Level 3 (wetland complex) and Level 4 (wetland habitats) should be the responsibility of individual national agencies and organisations, see Chapter 3. The system is developed in such a way that Level 3 and Level 4 data can be hosted by the country itself according to capacity. On-site field data collection at Levels 3 and 4 can be achieved with the simple means of a pen and the data sheets provided in Annex 2.

The four-tiered data-collation and mapping levels for wetland inventory presented in this manual are suggested to lie within the following map scales:

  • 1: 500,000 to 1:1,000,000 scale maps for major river basins
  • 1:250,000 to 1:500,000 scale maps for sub-basins
  • 1:25,000 to 1:250,000 scale maps for wetlands complexes
  • 1:5,000 to 1:25,000 scale maps for wetland habitats

With regard to computer-based data management, an interactive GIS-based dynamic web-system (the Greater Himalayan Wetlands Information System, GHWIS) has been developed by ICIMOD to visualise the complete wetland database.

The manual is prepared as follows. The main text is preceded by an Introduction (Chapter 1) and a description of the Aims (Chapter 2), the Methods (Chapter 3), and the Information Management System developed for the Inventory (Chapter 4). The largest part of the manual is dedicated to Chapter 5 which provides step-by-step guidelines, with examples, for data collation at each hierarchical level. The associated data collection sheets for each level are presented in Annex 2.

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