National-Level Wetland Policy Specificity and Goals Vary According to Political and Economic Indicators

Alex W. Peimer, Adrianna E. Krzywicka, Dora B. Cohen, Kyle Van den Bosch, Valerie L. Buxton, Natalie A. Stevenson, Jeffrey W. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing recognition of the importance of wetlands to human and ecosystem well-being has led countries worldwide to implement wetland protection policies. Different countries have taken different approaches to wetland protection by implementing various policies, including territorial exclusion, market-based offsetting, and incentive programs for land users. Our objective was to describe the relationship between components of national-level wetland protection policies and national characteristics, including natural resource, economic, social, and political factors. We compiled data on the wetland policies of all 193 countries recognized by the U.N. and described the relationships among wetland policy goals and wetland protection mechanisms using non-metric multidimensional scaling. The first non-metric multidimensional scaling axis strongly correlated with whether a country had a wetland-specific environmental policy in place. Adoption of a comprehensive, wetland-specific policy was positively associated with degree of democracy and a commitment to establishing protected areas. The second non-metric multidimensional scaling axis defined a continuum of policy goals and mechanisms by which wetlands are protected, with goals to protect wetland ecosystem services on one end of the spectrum and goals to protect biodiversity on the other. Goals for protecting ecosystem services were frequently cited in policy documents of countries with agriculture-based economies, whereas goals associated with wetland biodiversity tended to be associated with tourism-based economies. We argue that the components of a country’s wetland policies reflect national-level resource and economic characteristics. Understanding the relationship between the type of wetland policy countries adopt and national-level characteristics is critical for international efforts to protect wetlands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Development
  • Environmental governance
  • Environmental policy
  • National wetland policy
  • Ramsar convention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'National-Level Wetland Policy Specificity and Goals Vary According to Political and Economic Indicators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this