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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: August 2009

1 - Introduction: big is beautiful

Summary

This book actually requires no introduction. The title says it all. You may therefore safely turn to the chapters dealing with each wetland. If you are curious about the tale behind the title, and wish to read further here, the tale is largely the search for scientific and conservation priorities. To succeed at scientific research or conservation action, clear priorities must be set – there are always vastly more scientific questions, and vastly more conservation problems, than humans can solve. One way to prioritize is by size: if we can identify the big scientific problems or the big conservation issues, we can address them first. This may appear self-evident, but often it seems that it is not.

No two editors can restructure conservation bureaucracies or scientific communities. However, a clear snapshot of the state of global wetlands, could, we believe, have such an effect. By highlighting all the world's largest wetlands in one book – wetlands that range across ecosystem types, international boundaries, and styles of research – we aspire to nudge all areas of wetland ecology and conservation biology back towards a common view and a common purpose. This purpose would include documenting the patterns in wetlands, unraveling the mechanisms behind these patterns, describing functions that extend beyond the borders of wetlands, predicting future consequences of human manipulation, and ensuring that the world's wetlands are protected and managed within a global context.

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