Wetlands in Drylands: conservation through environmental research, citizen science and global engagement

Impact: Science impacts, Environment impacts, Policy impacts, Society impacts

Description of impact

Wetlands in dry landscapes are dynamic systems that provide essential habitats, ecosystem services, and socio-cultural values around the world. Wetlands in drylands are fundamentally important, yet critically threatened by human activities and environmental change, particularly in the context of future projections for increased aridity in dry regions. Globally, >85% of wetland area has been lost or severely degraded and, annually, billions of dollars are spent in efforts to understand, conserve and manage wetlands. More than half of Australia's nationally important wetlands occur in dry inland regions and all government agencies and communities rely on relevant and up-to-date science for these systems.
Environmental research on wetlands in drylands is highly impactful for government agencies and community groups. Engagement occurs with collaborators and end-users widely across Australia, southern Africa, the Americas, and Europe to assess why wetlands in drylands are so important, how they function, and what threatens them. We also examine how an improved understanding of rivers and wetlands can be translated to support and enhance their conservation and management. Hosting and participating in workshops and a range of on-ground and online activities facilitates communication of novel ideas and findings, and kick-starts and maintains interdisciplinary partnerships and projects. Global collaboration and impact is achieved with the 'Wetlands in Drylands Research Network', an international initiative to promote science, conservation and management of these important landscapes and ecosystems. 
The main impacts stemming from this work are: 1) Completion of environmental research with direct applications and benefits for water and wetland conservation, management and policy. 2) Engagement and mobilisation of landowners, managers and other community members through a citizen science initiative called 'WetlandSnap'. 3) Development of the international Wetlands in Drylands Research Network and collaboration with and dissemination of information to a range of stakeholders through on-ground activities, symposia and workshops. 4) Establishment of new infrastructure for environmental and socio-cultural research and outreach/engagement with national and international parties.
Impact date2009
Category of impactScience impacts, Environment impacts, Policy impacts, Society impacts
Impact levelAdoption