World Wetlands Day

Today is the World Wetlands Day. Dating back to 1971, World Wetlands Day is an environmentally-related celebration that reaffirms the protection and love for wetlands, which are the small environments of plant life and organisms found within water bodies that bring about ecological health in abundance to not only water bodies but environments as a whole. First celebrated in 1997, World Wetlands Day serves to recognise the influence and positive production that Wetlands have had on the world and in terms brings communities together for the benefit of Mother Nature. This day also raises global awareness because wetlands play a significant role in people and on the planet. The day was formally acknowledged by the United Nations on 30 August 2021as World Wetlands Day. 2 February each year is World Wetlands Day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

A patch of land that develops pools of water after a rainstorm would not necessarily be considered a wetland, even though the land is wet. Wetlands have unique characteristics: they are generally distinguished from other water bodies or landforms based on their water level and on the types of plants that live within them. Specifically, wetlands are characterised as having a water table that stands at or near the land surface for a long enough period each year to support aquatic plants. A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally. Flooding results in oxygen-free or anoxic processes prevailing, especially in the soils. Wetlands are considered among the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of unique plant and animal species and occur naturally on every continent, except for Antarctica. The water in wetlands is either freshwater, brackish or salt water and the main wetland types are classified based on the dominant plants and/or the source of the water. Wetlands contribute several functions that benefit people and are called ecosystem services and include water purification, groundwater replenishment, stabilization of shorelines and storm protection, water storage and flood control, processing of carbon including carbon fixation, decomposition and sequestration, other nutrients and pollutants, and support of plants and animals. Wetlands also place a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The world’s largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. According to the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, wetlands are more affected by environmental degradation than any other ecosystem on Earth.

Over time, human construction has led to various ecological problems affecting wetlands. Overpopulation and construction have led to a decrease in environmental conservation and total has brought issues to these lands. Many wetlands are being lost and ecologists claim that humans should recognise this dilemma before the loss of a natural filter and conserver of the world.

The theme for the 2022 World Wetlands Day is Wetlands Action for People & Nature and today the Convention on Wetlands and its Contracting Parties will launch the next World Wetlands Day campaign to scale wetlands conservation actions for people and planetary health.

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