World Wetlands Day
To raise global awareness on the importance of wetlands, World Wetlands Day is observed every year on February 2nd. The day also denotes the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971.
World Wetlands Day – is a United Nations international day.
According to the United Nations, wetlands are ecosystems where water is the primary factor which controls the environment and the associated plant and animal life.
It comprises freshwater and marine and coastal ecosystems, including lakes and rivers, peatlands, oases, mangroves, coastal reefs, fishponds, rice paddies and saltpans.
Despite covering only 6 percent of the Earth’s land surface, 40 % of the entire plant and animal species live/breed in wetlands.
Importance of wetlands
Wetlands give essential ecosystem services including water regulation (flood control and water purification).
Wetlands are among Earth’s most threatened ecosystems. Despite being critical for human existence, they are disappearing three times faster than our forests.
As per the UN estimates, we have already lost 35 % of the world’s wetlands in the last 50 years.
Drainage, pollution, overfishing, and over exploitation of resources pose a major threat to wetlands. Invasive species and climate change are also responsible for their extinction.
The Ramsar convention
It is an international treaty for the conservation and proper use of wetlands. The convention is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea. The treaty was signed there on February 2, 1971.
Ramsar Sites in India
Currently, there are 75 Ramsar sites in India including Chilika lake, Keoladeo National Park, Harike lake and Wular lake.
As per the report of NGO Wetland International, Ramsar sites cover a considerable geographical area of India – highest for any South Asian country!
Sultanpur National Park and Bhindawas Wildlife were declared as Ramsar sites in May 2021.
‘Wetlands Restoration’ is the theme of World Wetlands Day 2023. The ‘day’ will focus on the urgent need to prioritize wetland restoration.
- Ramsar list is regarded as the world’s largest network of protected areas.
- There are over 2,300 Ramsar sites across the globe spread over 2.5 million square kilometers.
- Designated in 1974, Cobourg peninsula in Australia is the world’s first Ramsar site.
- Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada are among the largest Ramsar sites; each of them cover over 60,000 square kilometers.
- Nations with the most number of Ramsar sites are the United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142).
- Bolivia has the largest area under Ramsar protection.
On this World Wetlands Day, let’s take an oath to protect our precious wetlands!