Wetlands are at risk of depletion and destruction due to the rapid urbanization worldwide. These unique ecosystems provide habitats for many species and provide ecosystem services that aid in the survival of the species. Among the residing species, dragonflies are a common sight in wetland ecosystems. As a major portion in their lives are spent in water, dragonflies are considered to be sensitive indicators of the conditions of the freshwater ecosystems – i.e. bioindicators.
However, the assessment of the world’s dragonflies and damselflies by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species reveals that 16% out of 6,016 species are at risk of extinction, as their freshwater breeding grounds increasingly deteriorate.
Viola Clausnitzer, co-chair of the IUCN Dragonfly Specialist Group, explained “To conserve these beautiful insects, it is critical that governments, agriculture and industry consider the protection of wetland ecosystems in development projects, for example by protecting key habitats and dedicating space to urban wetlands”. IUCN director general, Bruno Oberle said in a statement that these wetland ecosystems are disappearing three times faster than forests globally, indicating the great peril upon us. He further explained how worth the wetlands in light of the essential services they provide – eg. storing carbon, clean water and food, floods regulation, as well as offering habitats for one in 10 of the world’s known species.
The clearing of wetland and rainforest areas to make room for crops such as palm oil has been identified as the underlying reason for the threat of declining population of dragonflies in South and Southeast Asia. In Central and South America, the major cause of dragonflies’ decline is the clearing of forests for constructions of residential and commercial purposes.
As this unfortunate phenomenon is not limited to one
region of the world, it is vital we take collective actions to protect these