Wetlands have been extensively modified by human activities worldwide. We provide a global-scale portrait of the threats and protection status of the world's inland wetlands by combining a global map of inundation extent derived from satellite images with data on threats from human influence and on protected areas. Currently, seasonal inland wetlands represent approximately 6% of the world's land surface, and about 89% of these are unprotected (as defined by protected areas IUCN I–VI and Ramsar sites). Wetland protection ranges from 20% in Central and 18% in South America to only 8% in Asia. Particularly high human influence was found in Asia, which contains the largest wetland area of the world. High human influence on wetlands even within protected areas underscores the urgent need for more effective conservation measures. The information provided here is important for wetland conservation planning and reveals that the current paradigm of wetland protection may be inadequate.