PONDERFUL unites world’s freshwater experts

Jun 26, 2023


PONDERFUL unites world’s freshwater experts to welcome support for small wetlands and waterbodies

The PONDERFUL consortium has brought together more than 50 of the world’s leading freshwater specialists to officially welcome a new resolution to promote and protect small wetlands.

Pond in the Albera pondscape, Catalonia. Photo: Lluis Benejam Vidal, University of Vic, Spain.

Members of the consortium, along with scientists and conservationists from across the globe, have signed a letter to Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Coordinated by the consortium for EU Horizon 2020 project PONDERFUL, the letter congratulates Dr Mumba on the resolution on ‘Conservation and Management of Small Wetlands’, which is an important step towards the better protection of small waterbodies. The adoption of the new resolution is an important signal to national and international institutions of the importance of small wetlands and waterbodies for the protection of freshwater biodiversity.

Natural pond on the flood plane of the River Biebza, Poland. Photo: Freshwater Habitats Trust.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971, it came into force in 1975 and now has 172 member countries, known as ‘contracting parties’. There are now 2,493 Wetlands of International Importance across the world.

Professor Jeremy Biggs of PONDERFUL partner Freshwater Habitats Trust recently spoke at a side event of the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. In his presentation, he highlighted the importance of small waterbodies to freshwater biodiversity and urged countries to designate small wetlands that meet the criteria as Wetlands of International Importance. He also encouraged countries to develop national plans to promote the conservation and restoration of these habitats, which are vital for freshwater life.

High quality new pond (created 1995) in Oxfordshire, southern England. Photo: Freshwater Habitats Trust.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has now officially adopted Resolution XIV.15: Enhancing the conservation and management of small wetlands.

Professor Jeremy Biggs, CEO of UK charity Freshwater Habitats Trust and lead signatory on the letter said: “We warmly welcome this development, which raises the profile of small waterbodies and their importance for wildlife. Because of their size, small waterbodies have long been overlooked by scientists and policymakers but in fact we now know that they support more biodiversity than larger bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. We are also starting to understand their potential to capture carbon and the important role they could play in the fight against climate change.

Natural pond in the Scottish Highlands. Photo: Freshwater Habitats Trust.

“There is a systematic bias against small waters, despite the fact that 90 percent of global standing waters are ponds of less than one hectare and a very large proportion of running waters are small, often seasonal, streams. Through PONDERFUL, we are tackling this bias head on by studying and raising awareness of the role of ponds for biodiversity and climate change adaptation. This new resolution from the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is hugely encouraging and reflects the shift in mindset around small waterbodies.”