World Wetlands Day : Definition, History & Facts and Figures

World Wetlands Day is celebrated throughout the world on the second day of February every year. This day has been set up to accept the influence and positive production that Wetlands have had on the world and in terms brings communities together for the benefit of Mother Nature.

Let us first answer the question: What is a Wetland?

Wetland is a unique ecosystem that is flooded by water which is either permanent or seasonal where oxygen-free processes prevail. One can recognize a wetland through its characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants. They generally tend to include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas. They occur naturally on every continent.

So, What is the History of the World Wetlands Day?

Originally set up in the year 1971 a convention on wetlands was held in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The world’s most influential environmentalists gathered together to reaffirm the protection and love for wetlands. It was not celebrated till the year 1997. The treaty at Ramsar, Iran came to be known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

Australia has played a major role in the Ramsar Convention and it has 66 wetlands that cover more than 8.3 million hectares.

What is the objective of Celebrating the World Wetlands Day?

World Wetland Day has become very important as many activities take place which helps in spreading awareness for the importance of wetlands:

  • Water-related Ecosystem Services: They absorb storms, regulate floods, control groundwater and also help in erosion control & sediment transport. This role of wetlands is recognized widely among countries getting deprived of wetlands.
  • Wetlands are beneficial areas for plant life, animals and wetland agriculture: Wetlands help many species in deriving nutrients and developing niches in the ecosystem.
  • Wetlands have become the habitat for the world’s waterbirds and migratory species: Migratory Birds use wetlands as feeding and breeding grounds. Wetlands conservation is required as most migratory birds depend upon the wetlands across countries to breed.
  • Wetlands help in Biodiversity: Wetlands are providing a home to more than 100,000 known freshwater fishes.

World Wetlands Day: Important facts and figures

Wetlands help in areas such as food & water security, human health, disaster risk reduction and climate change resilience.

  • Nearly 64% of the World’s Wetlands have disappeared since the early 1900s.
  •  Approach to freshwater has been eroded for 1-2 billion people in Asia.
  • The population of freshwater species has declined by more than 76%.
  • More than a third of endangered species rely on the wetlands.
  • More than 1 million gallons of water can be stored in an acre of wetland.

Wetlands are very important in preserving a lot of species such as invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles. Along with solving water issues they also help in soil conservation and storing floodwater. World Wetlands Day helps us to acknowledge wetlands’ critical role in biodiversity. We require the solutions they provide on climate change and sustainable development.

Let us join hands to fulfil commitments to stop the loss of the world’s wetlands.

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