Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (652 KB bytes)

Title: Irrigated agriculture and wildlife conservation: conflict on a global scale

Author: Lemly, A. Dennis; Kingsford, Richard T.; Thompson, Julian R.;

Date: 2000

Source: Environmental Management. 25(5): 485-512.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: The demand for water to support irrigated agriculture has led to the demise of wetlands and their associated wildlife for decades. This thirst for water is so pervasive that many wetlands considered to be hemispheric reserves for waterbirds have been heavily affected, for example, the California and Nevada wetlands in North America, the Macquarie Marshes in Australia, and the Aral Sea in central Asia. These and other major wetlands have lost most of their historic supplies of water, and some have also experienced serious impacts from contaminated subsurface irrigation drainage. Now mere shadows of what they once were in terms of biodiversity and wildlife production, many of the so-called "wetlands of international importance" are no longer the key conservation strongholds they were in the past. The conflict between irrigated agriculture and wildlife conservation has reached a critical point on a global scale. Not only has local wildlife suffered, including the extinction of highly insular species, but a ripple effect has impacted migratory birds worldwide. Human societies reliant on wetlands for their livelihoods are also bearing the cost. Ironically, most of the degradation of these key wetlands occurred during a period of time when public environmental awareness and scientific assertion of the need for wildlife conservation was at an all-time high. However, designation of certain wetlands as "reserves for wildlife" by international review boards has not slowed their continued degradation. To reverse this trend, land and water managers and policy makers must assess the true economic costs of wetland loss and, depending on the outcome of the assessment, use the information as a basis for establishing legally enforceable water rights that protect wetlands from agricultural development.

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Lemly, A. Dennis; Kingsford, Richard T.; Thompson, Julian R. 2000. Irrigated agriculture and wildlife conservation: conflict on a global scale. Environmental Management. 25(5): 485-512.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.