World Wetlands Day is commemorated every second day of February to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in Ramsar, Iran on February 2, 1971. Also known as the Ramsar Convention, it aims for “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.”
Over 98 countries around the world participate in various events. Government agencies, non-government organization, and groups of concerned citizens from all walks of life conduct lectures and seminars, nature walks, children’s art contests, community clean-up days, and other related activities to raise peoples’ awareness on the value of wetlands and its benefits.
This year, 2015, the program highlights the theme, “Wetlands for our Future”, to focus on the necessity of raising people’s awareness on the values of wetlands to the future generations and its importance to sustainability.
Among the various programs lined up for this year’s celebration is a photo contest among young people 15 – 24 years old. So, if you are fond of taking selfies, here’s an opportunity to take your personal interest to a higher level.
What exactly are wetlands?
Why should we give them so much importance? Wetlands are land areas that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water. They play a very significant role in our ecosystems because they serve as home to several wildlife species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, crustaceans, and fish. These lands provide bountiful nutrients and water to animals; make a safe refuge for many animals and plants during hot seasons, especially during droughts, and; they accommodate nurseries for fish and migratory birds.
Wetlands are also capable of improving the quality of water and the general state of the drainage basins. When water passes through a wetland, pollutants like silt, nitrates, and pesticides that are carried with it are purified, controlled, and broken down by the bacteria found in the soil or by the vegetation in the wetlands. Thus, preventing harmful chemicals from going farther into the ocean.
In addition, wetlands provide mankind several socio-economic and environmental benefits, such as:
- protect people and their properties from natural disasters, like raging storm waters, wind, landslides, and erosion
- significantly slow down the effects of global warming by keeping greenhouse gases away from the earth’s atmosphere
- prevent excess water from getting inland, which can pose threat on land use activities
There are a number of ways by which you can participate in the World Wetlands Day commemoration. Most likely, there is a community in your area that organizes events for this purpose. Or, you may even want to initiate a project in your locality. Ramsar Convention would be willing to provide you with the materials you need.
Last year, 2014, the theme “Wetlands and Agriculture” emphasized on the need for the wetland, water, and agriculture sectors to work together for the best shared outcomes. While the 2013 event focused on “Wetlands and Water Management”.