Conservationists often want to preserve wetlands for their unique biodiversity. But many governments and development organisations pursue the opposite strategy, seeing wetlands as a hindrance to development or a resource to exploit: land to be drained for agriculture and forestry or a useful supply of water for domestic and irrigation needs. As a result, wetland areas in much of the South are being lost at an alarming rate. This book contends that wetlands should be protected and managed as a vital environmental sanctuary and a source of livelihood for the people - often poor farmers and fishers - who live in and around them.

It draws on the experiences of several projects that combined conservation and development goals. In Kenya's Kimana wetlands, local people were helped to form a water users' association to plan and manage the limited water resources, reduce conflicts and conserve water for domestic use, farming, livestock and wildlife. In drought and famine-stricken areas of Malawi and Zambia, a project helped communities grow crops in a way that preserved the wetlands' other functions, as a home for wildlife and a store for water.

Meanwhile, an initiative launched in villages of Mali's Inner Niger Delta provided loans to local women to enable them to establish small enterprises such as cereal banks, gardens and fishponds. In return, the women undertook wetland restoration activities, such as planting trees, which were used by fish as spawning grounds - hence the title of the book.

Planting trees to eat fish. Field experiences in wetlands and poverty reduction
Wetlands International, 2009. 144 pp.
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Wetlands International
PO Box 471
6700 AL Wageningen
The Netherlands
Fax: +31(0)318-660950

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