WORLD WETLANDS DAY
Each year on February 2nd, World Wetlands Day celebrates the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands and spreads awareness for the world’s vanishing wetlands.
Wetlands are a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally. Examples of wetlands include swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, and saltmarshes. The vegetation of aquatic plants make wetlands different from other landforms or water bodies. Wetlands also support both aquatic and land animals. With the exception of Antarctica, wetlands exist on every continent.
Wetlands play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem, including:
- Protecting our shores from wave action
- Reducing the impact of floods
- Absorbing pollutants
- Improving water quality
- Providing habitats for animals and plants
- Providing an important link between land and water
- More than one billion people depend on wetlands for a living.
- Up to 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands.
Sadly, wetlands throughout the world are disappearing. In fact, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. Between the years 1970 and 2015, about 35% of the world’s wetlands were lost. Wetlands disappear for many reasons. These include climate change, urbanization, and population increases. Pollution, unsustainable use, and invasive species also threaten the existence of wetlands.
Despite the importance of wetlands, policymakers and decision-makers undervalue wetlands. The world needs to be educated on the critical importance of this biodiverse ecosystem. Wetlands cover a larger area than Greenland. Of all the wetlands, the world protects only 13 to 18 percent of them.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldWetlandsDay
Many environmentalists and conservation groups hold events to draw attention to the importance of preserving and protecting the wetlands. Since 2015, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands hosts a Wetlands Youth Photo Contest encouraging young people’s involvement in the day.
- Learn more about wetlands and their importance
- Research wetlands around the world including the Everglades in Florida, Carmargue in France, and Wasur National Park in New Guinea
- Donate to conservation groups, such as The Wetlands Initiative
- Discuss with others what can be done to preserve and protect the wetlands
- Visit the World Wetlands Day website for more information
While you’re celebrating, be sure to invite someone to join you. Use #WorldWetlandsDay to share your experience on social media.
WORLD WETLANDS DAY HISTORY
On February 2nd, 1971 a small group of environmentalists adopted the Convention of Wetlands in Ramsar. This Iranian city is located on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The international agreement is also referred to as the Ramsar Convention. Many years later, in 1997, World Wetlands Day was established. Today, over 100 countries participate in events held on this day.
Recent themes include:
- 2020: Wetlands and Biodiversity
- 2019: Wetlands and Climate Change
- 2018: Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future
- 2017: Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction
- 2016: Wetlands for Our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods