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A proposed functional classification of european wetlands: Development and testing

Simpson, Matthew Robert; (2002) A proposed functional classification of european wetlands: Development and testing. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London (United Kingdom). Green open access

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The full significance of wetlands in conserving the quality of the natural environment has only been realised in recent times. Traditionally wetland ecosystems have been conserved for their 'naturalness' or their ability to maintain habitats for rare species. This policy has failed to stop the intensification of agriculture and increased urban development from destroying and degrading many of Europe's wetlands. To arrest this loss and degradation, criteria other than habitats or species have to be considered when evaluating the importance of wetlands. Wider societal values which wetlands may possess have also to be included in any planning and decision making. Recent shifts in policy such as the European Union Water Framework Directive reflect this, indicating a need for assessing the natural environment from a functional standpoint. Therefore, there is a need for wetland evaluation tools that provide decision support to help recognise the importance of wetlands and to help fulfil legislative requirements. This study has developed and tested a theoretical functional classification of European wetlands that is designed to contribute to this need. Classification development followed a hydrogeomorphic approach linking wetland type, categorised by climate, geographical position, geomorphic setting and hydrological character, with the potential functioning of the wetland. Testing of the functional classification has been undertaken through empirical studies at two separate levels; European level; and river catchment level. Testing indicated that the classification describes adequately the different wetlands tested and accurately predicts potential functioning at each of the wetland sites. The study demonstrates that geomorphic unit types, the key component of landscape zonation within the functional classification, perform the functions of floodwater retention and groundwater discharge to varying degrees and that landscape position effects the degree to which the two functions are performed. Testing of the geomorphic unit classification against other wetland environmental variables such as soil and vegetation indicate that within the field sites studied geomorphic unit type was a better predictor of the two hydrological functions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: A proposed functional classification of european wetlands: Development and testing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: DXN061816; Biological sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098506
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