INTECOL International Wetlands conference in Changshu, Suzanne McGowan and Keely Mills

Conference delegates getting ready for the start of the Aquatic
Transition session. Suzanne is far right, Keely is second right. 
Staff from the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG), a collaboration between the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham, Suzanne McGowan and Keely Mills, travelled to Changshu in China to attend the 10th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference which took place on 19-24th September 2016.  Here they tell us a bit about the conference...

The main aim of this visit was to host a session on ‘Trends in wetland condition and ecosystem services’, also chaired by Prof Peter Gell from the University of Ballarat in Australia. The CEG has been supporting an international working group Aquatic Transitions which is coordinated by PAGES Past Global Changes

The aim of this working group is to ‘integrate regional records of change in aquatic systems to provide a global synthesis of the sensitivity of sites to critical stages of human impact, detailing the nature of changes that can provide insights for management of these aquatic ecosystems’. Much of the research conducted in the CEG is aligned with the Aquatic Transitions goals.

Keely Mills presented an overview of how human impacts influence freshwater ecosystems and the aims and activities of the working group, which has held two workshops to date and is working on several synthesis manuscripts. Suzanne McGowan presented work from a diverse range of floodplain lakes investigated by University of Nottingham / CEG researchers (Stefan Engels, Charlotte Briddon, Virginia Panizzo, Melanie Leng) including Attenborough Nature Reserve, lakes from the Yangtzse Delta and the Tasik Chini flood pulse wetland in Malaysia. The latter work presented some preliminary results from work initiated by CEG on Asian lakes and wetlands.

From L-R: One of the many waterways in Changshu. INTECOL being publicized in Changshu
Changshu is a natural place to host a wetlands conference. Located at the mouth of the Yangtzse River Delta a few hours from Shanghai, the city is a fascinating example of how wetland habitats and waterways can be integrated into urban design to create a very pleasant living environment. The conference was highly publicized in the city, and there were excursions to showcase some of the wetland restoration efforts and also to illustrate the importance of wetland environments to the rice farming communities in this region.
Selfie with Bob Costanza! 
It was very interesting to see such a mix of interdisciplinary research at the conference, with the range of topics including, for example, engineered wetland design, bird conservation in Ramsar sites, peatland restoration, socio-ecological interactions and pond ecology. The plenary speaker on the first day, Robert Costanza is renowned for his paradigm-shifting publication which introduced the, now widely applied, concept of ecosystem services. We ended up next to him in the restaurant later on that day, and could not resist the opportunity for a selfie. All in all, it was fascinating to see the great range of stakeholders who have interests in wetland management and conservation.

The main aim of the visit was to publicize the work we are doing to a different audience, and it was great to interact with academics, NGO representatives and businesses from across the world. We also found the time to plan for the next Aquatic Transitions workshop which is scheduled for February 2017 in Kuala Lumpur at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

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By Suzanne McGowan (University of Nottingham)  and Keely Mills (British Geological Survey)