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Working Wetland Potential: An index to guide the sustainable development of African wetlands

By Matthew P. McCartney and Helen A. Houghton-Carr

Abstract

Past experience shows that inappropriate agricultural development in wetlands can undermine sustainability and may have\ud profound social and economic repercussions for people dependent on the range of ecosystem services provided by those\ud wetlands. Nonetheless, there is escalating pressure to expand agriculture within wetlands due to increasing population, in\ud conjunction with efforts to increase food security. This paper describes the development of a semi-analytical framework for\ud identifying, organizing and analyzing the complex factors that link people, agriculture and wetland ecosystems — an index\ud ofWorkingWetland Potential (WWP). The method is based on a form of multi-criteria analysis that integrates biophysical and\ud socio-economic aspects of wetland utilization. The WWP index emerges from the aggregation of two values: the first arising\ud from an appraisal of both the biophysical and socio-economic suitability of using the wetland for agriculture; and the second\ud resulting from an assessment of the possible hazards, in relation to both social welfare and the ecological character of the\ud wetland. Hence, the approach provides a way to explicitly integrate biophysical and social aspects of wetland utilization in\ud a single index to enable an initial assessment of the suitability of using a wetland for agriculture. Results from three\ud contrasting wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa are presented

Topics: Agriculture and Soil Science, Ecology and Environment, Hydrology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1477-8947.2009.01214.x
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:9266
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