World Wetlands Day 2021: 5 facts about wetlands that you must know
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods during the year, including during the growing season.
The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetlands and Water’.
“We are facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish, and we are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – Wetlands,” according to the Convention on Wetlands.
The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our wellbeing and the health of our planet.
The World Wetlands Day is internationally celebrated on 2 February each year. The day is used to raise global awareness about the role of wetlands for people and the planet. Also, 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.
What are Ramsar wetlands?
Under the Ramsar Convention, a wide variety of natural and human-made habitat types ranging from rivers to coral reefs can be classified as wetlands. The Ramsar Convention categories of wetlands include swamps, marshes, billabongs, lakes, salt marshes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens, peat bogs, or bodies of water – whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary.
According to the Convention on Wetlands, water within these areas can be static or flowing; fresh, brackish, or saline; and can include inland rivers and coastal or marine water to a depth of six meters at low tide. There are even underground wetlands.
The health of people on our planet depends on healthy wetlands. “40% of the world’s species live or breed in wetlands, yet they are disappearing three times faster than forests,” says the UN Development. Here’s why wetlands matter:
1. Wetlands are “nurseries of life” – 40% of animals breed in wetlands
2. Wetlands are “kidneys of the earth” – they clean the environment of pollutants
3. Wetlands “matter for climate change” – they store 30% of land-based carbon
4. Wetlands “minimize disaster risks” – they absorb storm surge
5. Wetlands “provide livelihood to one billion people” – their ecosystems are worth USD 47 trillion annually