INTECOL Wetland History


The INTECOL Wetland Working Group (WWG) formed at the International Congress of Ecology in Jerusalem, 1978, to encourage research, information sharing and scientific exchanges within the general area of wetland sciences. About 40 people attended the first meeting. At the time there were no internationally based wetland ecology societies, journals or specialty meetings comparable to that available for other biomes like forests, oceans or grasslands (with exception of the International Peat Congresses, which tended to focused geographically and in terms of discipline interests). V. J. Chapman chaired subsequent administrative efforts to organize an international meeting. The major functions of the WWG has been to organize an international meeting every 4 years, and to join the main body of INTECOL at that larger meeting in the years 2 years between.

1980, New Delhi, India. The First International Wetlands Conference took place from 10-17 September 1980 in New Delhi with the assistance of several international and national sponsors. Approximately 90 people from 20 countries attended 10 days of meeting and field trips. US scientific participation for 12 persons was guaranteed through a PL410 grant to the conferences organizers, D. Whigham, Principal Investigator. The meeting format consisted of daily conference papers, a mid-week tour to local wetlands and a half-day wrap-up session to write consensus position papers on wetland research needs. Two book volumes (Gopal, B., R. E. Turner, R. G. Wetzel, and D. F. Whigham (editors.) 1982. Wetlands: Ecology and Management. International Scientific Publications, Jaipur, India. Vol. 1/2. 514 pp. and 156 pp., respectively) and one conference recommendation and several journal articles resulted. Several conference participants subsequently returned to India for research with colleagues contacted at that first conference.

1984, Trebon, Czechoslovakia. The IIrd International Wetlands Conference was in Trebon, Czechoslovakia, June 13-23, 1984. It was hosted by Drs. Jan Kvet and Jan Pokorny, and organized by the Department of Hydrobotany, Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. Approximately 150 people from 26 countries attended a one-week meeting. The meeting included plenary sessions, shorter afternoon and evening presentations, poster sessions, roundtable discussions and field trips. Two conference proceedings has been published based on papers presented at that meeting: One is a special issue of a journal (Pokorny, J., O. Lhotsky, P. Denny and R. E. Turner (editors) 1987. Waterplants and wetland processes. Archiv Fur Hydrobiologie Vol. 27) and two books (Mitsch, W.J., M. Straskraba, and S.E. Jørgensen (editors). 1988. Wetland Modelling. Elsevier, Amsterdam.; D. Whigham (ed.) Springer-Verlag, publishers) as well as a whole issue of Aquatic Botany.

1988, Rennes, France (Conservation and Development: The Sustainable Use of Wetland Resources). The IIIrd International Wetlands Conference was held September 19-23, 1988, at Rennes, France, under the aegis of the University of Rennes and the National Museum of Natural History. It was sponsored by INTECOL, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, World Wildlife Fund and in France by the Ministry of Environment, UNESCO/MAB, the National Institute of Agricultural Research, the National Center for Scientific Research. The organizing committee was chaired by Professor J. C. Lefeuvre from the National Museum of Natural History. This third conference was different from the others in several ways. The theme of the 3rd conference was “Conservation and Development: the sustainable use of wetland resources”. This theme was chosen to draw interest from developing countries, conservation organizations and to reflect the member’s interest in wetlands as a natural resource. The member’s interests are strongly scientific as compared to primarily managerial, so scientific endeavors dominated the program. Morning plenary sessions (invited), afternoon 15-20 minutes presentations, poster sessions and evening specialty topics were scheduled, as were workshops for a mid-week “hands-on” training session on at least four techniques (Eh measurements, wetland evaluations, and the cotton strip and balsa wood method for measuring microorganism activities). The purpose of the workshops was to allow participants the opportunity to learn a technique well enough to develop expertise on their own. Total registration was about 400 representing 37 countries. Excellent field trips were scheduled before and after the main meeting dates. Publication from materials presented at the conference included postconference publication of extended abstracts from the poster sessions, a book by the French National Center of Scientific Research (CNFS) and submissions to specialty journals (e.g. Wetlands Ecology and Management). There was a definite emphasis on publishing peerreviewed articles and to avoid symposium-style publications.

1992, Columbus, Ohio (Global Wetlands: Old World and New). The IVth International Wetlands Conference was held at Ohio State University, 13-17 September 1992. It was sponsored by several US national federal and state agencies, and, by numerous international wetland resource agencies (NGO and federal). There were 15 symposia, more than 905 participants and 52 countries represented, making it the largest wetland meeting ever. Environmental education sessions were fully represented in a major way. Several books and collections of papers in journals are complete as a result of that meeting. The format of organized symposium, workshops, posters and specialized topics developing into collected journal articles was set for future meetings.

1996, Perth, Australia (Wetlands for the Future). The Vth INTECOL Wetland Symposium was held at Perth, Australia in September, 1996, and hosted by Western Australia University and Murdoch University, by A.J. McComb and J. Davis. It was sponsored by several US national federal and state agencies, and, by numerous international wetland resource agencies (NGO and federal) and several Australian Institutions. There were dozens of symposia and several great tours and workshops before and after the meeting. Approximately 550 participants and 60 countries were represented. Several books and collections of papers in journals were completed as a result of that meeting.

2000, Quebec City, Canada. The VIth INTECOL Wetland Symposium was held in Quebec City, Canada on 6-12 August, 2000. The meeting was hosted by C. Rubec, B. Belangér and G. Hood and held jointly with the International Peat Society, International Mire Conservation Group, and Society for Wetland Scientists as the “Quebec 2000: A Global Celebration of Wetlands”. Twenty concurrent sessions were held over 5 days with a mid-week field trip. Pre- and post-meeting tours sent delegates to the Pacific and Atlantic coast, Hudson Bay and inland. There were 59 symposium and 72 sessions. Seventy-two countries were represented by 2,068 delegates making this the largest wetland meeting ever. The WWG presented awards to several members and held a business meeting on the last day. A resolution was passed supporting the conservation of the Nakaikema wetland (Japan) and discussion of by-laws for the WWG.

2004, Utrecht, The Netherlands. The VII-th INTECOL Wetland Symposium was held 25-30 July, 2004, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, under the guidance of Prof. Jos Verhoeven, University of Utrecht. The web site is at: The conference mission highlighted the newest developments in Wetland Science with all its major disciplines and reviewed this knowledge in the perspective of integrated water resources management world-wide. There were 867 registered participants from 62 countries. There were 68 oral symposia and sessions, as well as 12 field excursions, all in the centrally located city of Utrecht. A total of 550 oral presentations and 263 poster presentations were made.

2008, Cuiaba, Brazil. The VIII-th INTECOL Wetland Symposium was held in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil, from 20-25 July, 2008, hosted by the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso. The organizing committee was headed up by Prof. Paulo Teixeira de Sousa Jr. and Catia Nunes da Cunha. This was the first meeting of the WWG in South America, and succeeded in stimulating much international and continental-scale interactions, promoted wetland education, research and management throughout the region, and gave rise to the largest wetland meeting in Latin America. A major field attraction was the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, an excellent example of international cooperation in research and development of wetlands, bordered by three countries. The registration included 700+ people from 28 countries. There were 325 presentations made in the 9 plenary talks, 22 workshops, and oral sessions. There were also 246 poster presentations, and 9 Special meetings, including one to organize a wetland science society for South America. The Plenary talks focused on the regional and global effects of climate change on wetlands, and how wetlands influence climate change.

2012, Orlando, Florida (USA). The IX-th INTECOL Wetland Symposium was held in Orlando, Florida, from 3-9 June, 2012, hosted by Prof. Ramesh Reddy (U. Florida) and Dr. Ronnie Best (U.S.G.S.). Associated sponsors and co-convenors included the University of Florida, Society of Wetland Scientists, and U. S. Geological Survey. The mission of the 9th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference was to provide a platform to review advances in the physical, biogeochemical, and social sciences as they are related to wetlands, to provide integrated solutions for sustainable management of wetland resources in a complex world, and to facilitate professional relationships at regional to international scales. The INTECOL2012 international wetlands conference was a platform to review research on complex challenges and integrated solutions for sustainable management of wetland resources in a changing world. Special emphasis was placed on the influence of climate change on wetland biota, biogeochemical cycling, hydrology, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gases, salinity, water quality, and longterm storage of nutrients and contaminants. There were 600 presentation, 70 sessions, and 400 posters by 1240 participants from 43 countries.

2016, Changshu, China. The 2016 10th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference was held 19-24 September, 2016, in Changshu, China. The conference was hosted by Nanjing University, Chinese Compliance Office for International Wetland Convention (CCOIWC), International Association for Ecology (INTECOL), Ecological Society of China (ESC) and Wetlands International (WI), and supported by the Ramsar Secretariat, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Man and the Biosphere Program (UNESCO – MAB),United Nations Environment Program – International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UNEP – IEMP), Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (MSTP – WPCT), Wetland Conservation Association of China, Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF), SEE Foundation, Forestry Bureau of Jiangsu Province and Suzhou Agriculture Committee; and organized by People’s Government of Changshu and Nanjing University Ecological Research Institute of Changshu. There were about 800 official representatives from 72 countries and regions, including over 300 foreign participants and more than10 international institutes participating in the conference. The conference consisted of 11 invited plenary speeches and 71 diverse and interesting sessions related to the fields of global change, biodiversity, ecosystem services, biogeochemical processes, eco-system monitoring, biological invasion, sewage treatment, wetland evaluation and wetland sustainable management. There were 420 speakers who gave 510 speeches on topics such as “construction and management of wetland parks”, “the potential role of wetlands in mitigating pollutants for the health of our landscape and globe”, “wetlands as biogeochemical hotspots affecting climate and water quality”, “better wetland, better city” and “river & lake ecological restoration and wetland technology”. The speeches effectively communicated the importance of addressing ecological issues in both academic and practical settings. Key features of the conference include: (1) Attendees from around the world representing academic, government, non-governmental and practitioner groups; (2) Adopting the Changshu Declaration on Wetlands (Turner, R.E., Verhoeven, J.T.A., Grobicki,A., Davis, J.A., Liu, S.R., An S.Q., 2017. The Changshu Declaration on Wetlands. Ecol Eng 101:1–2), advocating wetland protection; (3) Diverse range of important presentations and parallel sessions delivered by experts from around the world; (4) Informative exhibitions and successful field visits to an impressive range of wetland example projects; (5) Put forward important patterns for research and implementation; (6) Scientific awards and recognizing special contributions; (7) Multiple media reports and widespread publicity; (8) Enhancing international cooperation, building communication platforms.

2021, Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand. The INTECOL Wetland (11th) Conference was held virtually due to Covid lockdown on 10-15 October, 2021. There were over 480 delegates representing 54 countries attending. With everyone gathered around their screens and laptops around the globe, the conference developed its own wairua across the internet for four days, with laughter and aroha. At the closing session three resolutions (on wetland rights, the global climate emergency and an Indigenous Water Science and Wetlands Network) were finalised and together form the ‘Ōtautahi Christchurch INTECOL Wetlands Conference Declaration’. These can be viewed on the conference website and here.