Farming the future and preserving the richness of our wetlands

wetlands day: Egret searching for food in paddy fields
Farming the future and preserving the richness of our wetlands
photo of Carlos Serrano, Sustainability Expert at ASCENZA
Carlos Serrano
Sustainability Expert
Because We Care

In the complex relation of Earth's ecosystems, wetlands play a pivotal role, quietly orchestrating the dance of life. Amidst the ever-evolving landscape of modern agriculture, these sanctuaries find themselves at a crucial crossroads. Join us on a journey to explore the intricate relationship between farming the future and preserving the richness of our wetlands.


Agriculture and wetlands can coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship that promotes ecological health and sustainability. Agricultural practices, when managed responsibly, can contribute to the preservation and even enhancement of wetland ecosystems.

To maximize the positive impact of agriculture on wetlands, it is essential to advocate for and implement responsible farming practices. This includes the sustainable use of agrochemicals, implementing conservation tillage methods, and adopting practices that reduce nutrient runoff into wetland areas. These practices contribute to the overall health of the watershed, benefiting both agricultural lands and adjacent wetlands. 

Some agricultural activities, such as rice cultivation or controlled irrigation, can help regulate water levels in wetlands, mimicking natural hydrological processes. This can be particularly beneficial in preventing extreme fluctuations in water levels that may negatively impact wetland habitats.

In some cases, well-managed agricultural lands act as a buffer zone between expanding urban areas and sensitive wetland ecosystems. This can protect wetlands from direct encroachment and pollution. 

Sustainable agricultural practices can provide economic support for wetland conservation efforts. For example, eco-friendly agricultural initiatives may generate revenue that can be reinvested into wetland restoration projects or conservation programmes. 

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Wetlands - Sustainable Agriculture and Wetlands Conservation


The following examples demonstrate that with thoughtful management and sustainable practices, it is possible for agriculture and wetlands to coexist, providing both ecological benefits and supporting the livelihoods of local communities.

In France: 

  • The Camargue region in southern France is renowned for its vast wetlands, including salt marshes, lagoons, and rice paddies. Local farmers practice traditional rice cultivation methods that are adapted to the wetland environment. This sustainable approach supports both agriculture and the unique biodiversity of the Camargue.
  • Marais Poitevin, often referred to as the "Green Venice," is a marshland in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Agriculture in the area includes the cultivation of crops on reclaimed land and traditional livestock farming. The coexistence of agriculture and wetlands contributes to the unique cultural and natural heritage of the region.
  • The Garonne River Basin, in the Occitanie region, encompasses various wetland habitats. Sustainable agricultural practices in the basin, such as agroforestry and organic farming, contribute to maintaining water quality and preserving the biodiversity of the wetlands along the river.


In Spain:

  • The Ebro Delta, located in Catalonia, is one of the largest wetland areas in Spain. Agriculture, particularly rice cultivation, is a significant activity in the delta. Traditional rice farming practices, adapted to the wetland environment, contribute to the conservation of the delta's biodiversity while sustaining the livelihoods of local communities.
  • Doñana National Park, located in Andalusia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, marshes, and sand dunes. Sustainable agricultural practices, such as extensive grazing and traditional rice cultivation, coexist with the conservation efforts in the park, supporting the diverse flora and fauna.
  • Tablas de Daimiel National Park is a wetland area in Castilla-La Mancha with unique landscapes like freshwater lagoons and reed beds. The traditional agricultural practices in the surrounding areas, including the cultivation of dryland crops, have been adapted to support the delicate balance of the wetland ecosystem.


In Portugal:

  • Ria Formosa, located in the Algarve region, is a coastal lagoon system with a mosaic of wetlands, salt marshes, and barrier islands. Local agriculture in this region includes salt production and clam farming, which are integrated with the natural processes of the wetlands. This sustainable approach contributes to the conservation of Ria Formosa's unique biodiversity.
  • The Aveiro Lagoon, situated in the Centro region, is characterized by a complex system of saltwater channels and lagoons. Agriculture in the surrounding areas includes salt production, aquaculture, and traditional fishing practices. These activities have been adapted to the wetland environment, promoting a balance between agriculture and ecological preservation.


In Italy: 

  • The Po Delta, in the Veneto region, is one of the largest wetland areas in Italy. It is characterized by a network of lagoons, marshes, and river channels. Agriculture in the region includes rice cultivation, adapted to the wetland conditions. The traditional cultivation practices contribute to the conservation of the unique ecosystem of the Po Delta.
  • Valle dei Mocheni in Trentino is known for its Alpine wetlands and meadows. Traditional farming practices in this valley, such as small-scale agriculture and livestock grazing, are in harmony with the natural environment. The careful management of these practices supports both agriculture and the preservation of the wetland habitats.


In Romania

  • The Danube Delta, one of Europe's largest wetlands, is a mosaic of lakes, channels, and marshes. Local communities engage in sustainable fishing and agriculture, including the cultivation of reed beds. This coexistence allows for the preservation of the delta's biodiversity while supporting the livelihoods of the people in the region.


Think of the benefits of integrating Wetlands Conservation in Agriculture as a symbiotic case. Maintaining vibrant wetlands isn't just an eco-friendly gesture; it's an investment in our agricultural future. Cleaner water, fertile soils, and resilience in the face of climate chaos – these are the dividends we reap when we choose to tread lightly on the wetlands.

Under the Nerthus Programme, Ascenza promotes the sustainable use of the agriculture contributing to improve biodiversity and the environmental protection of protected areas. The above-mentioned examples illuminate the path forward. Communities and regions embracing a harmonious coexistence between agriculture and wetlands are reaping rewards beyond measure.