The Lena River Delta is the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia.
Photo courtesy of USGS, EROS Data Center
Marine and lacustrine deltas around the world are economic and environmental hotspots. They occupy approximately 1% of the Earth’s land area but are home to greater than 500 million people — all within 5 meters of present-day sea level. Deltas support high productivity, rich biodiversity, and easy transport along a network of waterways. Yet deltaic systems are one of the world’s most delicate and vulnerable natural systems, residing at the boundary of land and ocean, and subject to upstream human control, local resource exploration, and climatic impacts.
There is an urgent need to rally the international community for a focused effort toward a holistic physical-socio-economic understanding of deltas. Such understanding is a basic requirement for their management, protection, and restoration. Thus we propose 2013-2014 to be considered the International Year of Deltas.