The definition of a wetland, as used for this database, is the Ramsar definition, where wetlands are defined as: “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”. In addition, the Convention provides that wetlands: “may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands”.

Wetlands are vital for human survival. They are among the world’s most productive environments; cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.

Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.

Yet study after study demonstrates that wetland area and quality continue to decline in most regions of the world. As a result, the ecosystem services that wetlands provide to people are compromised.