Pay stakeholders to protect marshes or swamps
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 2
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Background information and definitions
Stakeholders could be paid to conserve marshes or swamps and the benefits they provide (e.g. wildlife habitat and carbon storage). This may involve protection of individual extant sites, or restoration/creation of sites to protect large-scale extent of marsh and swamp habitats. Participation is typically voluntary. Payments could be made directly or as tax incentives, could be paid as cash or as alternative lands, and could come from governments, non-governmental organizations or private sponsorship. Advice, monitoring and enforcement are often offered alongside payments.
Examples of payment schemes relevant to marsh and swamp conservation include the Wetland Reserve Programme in the USA (NRCS 2019), nationally or internationally funded agri-environment schemes (Keenleyside & Moxey 2011), and the Bio-Rights programme in which funding for community development is contingent on the community carrying out agreed conservation actions (van Eijk & Kumar 2009).
Studies that include, or aim to conserve, at least some marsh or swamp habitat are summarized as evidence for this action. Given the broad scale of this action, results may include other wetland habitats (e.g. peatlands and mudflats), aquatic habitats (e.g. rivers and lakes) or upland habitats (e.g. forests). Studies must quantify the overall effects of paying stakeholders, with some comparison of conservation activities with vs without payment (e.g. in management units enrolled on payment schemes vs not, states with payment schemes vs without, or times before vs after introduction of payment schemes). The following types of study have not been summarized as evidence of this action:
- Studies simply examining vegetation within wetlands restored/created under payment schemes (e.g. De Steven & Gramling 2012).
- Studies reporting uptake only (e.g. area of land contracted to payment schemes, or number of people signed up).
- Studies examining effects of specific interventions carried out under payment schemes (e.g. abandoning land, rewetting, planting, or multiple interventions). These are included in other chapters.
Related actions: Adopt ecotourism principles/create an ecotourism site as a source of funding to protect marshes and swamps.
De Steven D. & Gramling J.M. (2012) Diverse characteristics of wetlands restored under the Wetlands Reserve Program in the southeastern United States. Wetlands, 32, 593–604.
Keenleyside C. & Moxey A. (2011) Public Funding of Peatland Management and Restoration in the UK – a Review. Report to IUCN UK Peatland Programme, Edinburgh.
NRCS (2017) Wetlands Reserve Program. Available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs143_008419. Accessed 6 December 2019.
van Eijk P. & Kumar R. (2009) Bio-Rights in Theory and Practice. A Financing Mechanism for Linking Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Conservation. Wetlands International, Wageningen.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, before-and-after, site comparison study in 2005–2012 of farmland ditches in England, UK (FERA 2013) found that managing ditches under an agri-environment scheme had no significant effect on the frequency of emergent vegetation or total plant species richness. After six years, 48–55% of ditches managed under agri-environment rules contained emergent vegetation. There were 6.1–6.5 plant species/ditch (emergent, aquatic and terrestrial combined). These values did not significantly differ from ditches not managed under agri-environment rules: 62% contained emergent vegetation and there were 6.4 plant species/ditch. Additionally, there was no change over time in the proportion of managed ditches that contained emergent vegetation: 39% just before or just after the agri-environment scheme began, then 34% five years later (statistical significance not assessed). Methods: The “Entry Level Stewardship” agri-environment scheme began in 2005/2006. Rules for ditch management included leaving half of the ditch banks uncut every year, and not cultivating within 2 m of the ditch centre. Vegetation in and along ditches was surveyed in 2005/2006, 2011 and 2012. Surveys included 52–170 ditches/year managed under agri-environment rules, and 16–17 ditches/year on farms not participating in the scheme.Study and other actions tested
A study in 2008–2016 in Nigeria (Wetlands International 2016) reported that paying community groups to use wetlands sustainably changed their behaviour. Fifty-eight community groups provided with access to micro-credits for sustainable development stopped practices that damaged mangrove forests (mainly cutting mangrove trees). They switched to practices less damaging to mangrove forests (such as fish and periwinkle farming) and contributed to wetland restoration. Methods: The payment scheme was implemented within the Bio-Rights framework. The study does not provide further details of the scheme, or quantify the behavioural changes.Study and other actions tested
Where has this evidence come from?
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021
Marsh and Swamp Synopsis