• Juan A. Schnack Universidad Nacional de La Plata


Wetlands, Definitions, Scientific and Strategic Approaches


Since the creation of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, the term wetland has been widely and increasingly mentioned by scientists and environmental managers. During the last decades of the Twentieth Century environmental concerns due to the dramatic loss of aquatic and related habitats have made wetlands target ecosystems for their conservation and restoration. Instead of regarding them as wetlands, they were identified prior to the mid-1970s according to their typology, by numerous denominations, for example bogs, marshes, swamps, oxbow lakes, some of them constituting individual wetlands within larger wetlands like floodplains. So, why wetlands? The arrival of a single catchy term embracing a diverse constellation of aquatic and water related environments was certainly useful to know their importance relative to other kinds of ecosystems, and also to tackle their wise use. Nevertheless, the need to conserve wetland's basic resources according to ecological and human demands frequently led to a misunderstanding of the actual attributes exhibited by these specific ecosystems, being some types of aquatic ecosystems which do not fit the wetland's scientific definition, like rivers, deep lakes, and coral reefs, frequently considered as such. Through this presentation I aspire to analyze the term wetland in such a way to conciliate scientific knowledge, management plans, and natural resources conservation, as well as to contribute to harmonize different conceptual approaches, searching for the achievement of shared viewpoints which would, eventually, overcome the ambiguity going around the term wetland by which the epigraph's question still remains.