Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Continuing Wetland Degradation Dissociates Socio-Ecological Systems and Affects Interconnected Goals of Environmental Health, Equity and Wellbeing: A case Study from the Lower Gangetic Floodplains

Version 1 : Received: 6 July 2020 / Approved: 8 July 2020 / Online: 8 July 2020 (11:21:50 CEST)

How to cite: ADHYA, T.; BANERJEE, S. Continuing Wetland Degradation Dissociates Socio-Ecological Systems and Affects Interconnected Goals of Environmental Health, Equity and Wellbeing: A case Study from the Lower Gangetic Floodplains. Preprints 2020, 2020070148 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0148.v1). ADHYA, T.; BANERJEE, S. Continuing Wetland Degradation Dissociates Socio-Ecological Systems and Affects Interconnected Goals of Environmental Health, Equity and Wellbeing: A case Study from the Lower Gangetic Floodplains. Preprints 2020, 2020070148 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0148.v1).

Abstract

Unplanned urbanisation and industrialisation have severely degraded natural ecosystems, particularly wetlands. The Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin support 630 million inhabitants; yet continue to be altered rapidly, jeopardizing the region’s social and ecological integrity. By conducting qualitative interviews and participant observation in a wetland dependent village located in the Lower Gangetic Floodplains we investigated how degrading wetlands in sub-urban landscapes were affecting socio-ecological systems. Not only did the wetlands provide livelihood options, mainly fishing and farming, but also provided prestige and autonomy. Vulnerable sections of the society across class, age and gender were solely dependent on the wetland. In absence of political will to safeguard wetland health, industries emerged by altering wetlands, which hampered local community’s livelihood and lifestyle. Further, our study demonstrated that local ecological knowledge could provide qualitative baseline information for fast-tracking identification of important wetlands and creating inventories to initiate wetland conservation and management. Finally, we recommend local governance structures should be strongly tied to international or national wetland policies so that wetland functions along with human health and well-being could be sustained. We strongly advocate that contradictions in policies be resolved to strengthen efforts to conserve wetlands which provide resilience to marginal communities in the face of calamities.

Subject Areas

degradation; dependence; local ecological knowledge; Lower Gangetic Floodplains; Ramsar Convention; wetland

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