World Wetlands Day
Wonders of Wetlands
This 2 February is the first World Wetlands Day observed by the United Nations, and its theme is “wetlands actions for people and nature”, which highlights the significance of actions to protect wetlands and use them sustainability for humans and a healthy earth. Wetlands are defined by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, signed in February 1971 in the Iranian city Ramsar, as “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”. This is a very broad definition but reveals that wetlands exist extensively throughout the earth system. For the importance of wetlands their services, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust of UK has made a fairly simple and straightforward explanation (see video below).
To reverse the decline of wetlands, three actions are recommended on this World Wetlands Day:
- Value wetlands: Throughout history wetlands have been viewed as wastelands. However, the benefits and nature-based solutions provided by wetlands have huge economic, social-cultural and environmental values which need to be taken into policy-making and reflected to a full extent.
- Manage wetlands: Managing wetlands wisely is “the maintenance of the ecological character of wetlands, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development.” This includes adopting national wetland plans, policies and legislation, setting up programs covering wetland inventory, monitoring, research, training, education and public awareness, and developing integrated management of wetlands.
- Restore wetlands: Restoring lost and degraded wetlands would include essential elements like (1) managing water, (2) re-establishing suitable vegetation, (3) managing pollution, (4) involving local communities, and (5) establishing public-private partnership programs.