Title: A review of Iceland’s wetland management approaches: Key lessons for Uganda

Author(s): Calvin Rapa
Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Thordis Björt Sigthorsdottir
Ramsar Convention, protected areas, wetlands, stakeholder consultation, Iceland


Wetlands, often referred to as the “kidneys of the earth,” among other functions, help in protecting ecosystem biodiversity and mitigating climate change by sequestering and storing CO2. Due to these advantages, humans have been altering wetlands, and as of 2019, about 85% of all wetlands worldwide had been lost globally. A multilateral agreement known as the Ramsar Convention (RC) was adopted in 1971 to combat the global decline of wetlands by fostering their sustainable management. As part of RC obligations, contracting parties are required to promote wise use of wetlands and to designate at least one wetland to be included in the list of Wetlands of International Importance. Both Uganda and Iceland ratified the RC. In this study, a systematic review of the implementation of RC obligations by Iceland was undertaken. The intention was to generate key lessons for Uganda. The findings indicate that Iceland is implementing wise use principles by prioritizing stakeholder collaboration, wetland research, and publications. Additionally, adequate time and resources are invested in stakeholder consultations during the preparation of wetland management plans. On the negative side, Iceland lacks a wetland policy and yet there is increasing pressure to develop areas that are near or within Ramsar sites. Conclusively, this study has demonstrated the significance of international legal frameworks. However, for effectiveness, both strong management systems and decision-makers are required. I recommend, among other things, a study on the effectiveness of RC in Iceland, and for Uganda, a national discussion at all levels is required to recognize the value of wetlands and the implications of conservation measures not being prioritized. Additionally, Uganda could customize the use of RC-wise concepts into its local wetland policies and strategies.

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