For centuries, several societies have developed relationship with wetlands, collecting and managing their resources, using them for transport and security reasons, developing spiritual beliefs and events and adapting their livelihood systems and practices to these ecosystems. These activities have endowed wetlands with cultural values, many of which have survived up to the present day. Unfortunately, most of these traditional values are not known or under-estimated by visitors and by decision-makers in charge of wetlands, because, usually not written, they remain social forces internal to these societies.
Since the last decades, in line with Ramsar guidelines and the evolving concept of ecological services, cultural values have been recognized and described in details. They are aesthetical, spiritual, recreational, etc. The cultural landscape, shaped from nature and humanity, is comprised of ricefields, oases, salt works, fishing areas, fishing villages, traditional houses, etc… Some became heritage such as Camargue and Gediz delta for example.
Beside the inherent cultural values as maintained and perceived by local communities, attractive cultural wetlands landscape is also clearly recognized by outsiders through ecotourism development and through price of land and building. Wetlands related production and processed products from fish, weeds, crustaceans, fibers, timber, crops and livestock are also part of the cultural values.
Some cultural values developed in wetlands areas are non material and have become part of the life cycle and livelihood of local residents such as rituals, beliefs, seasonal work calendar, technique (agriculture, livestock, fishing, construction, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, etc.).
While most of cultural features are difficult to value economically, they are part of historical references and livelihood assets of these territories and more efforts are needed to take them into account in development decision-making process.