World Wetlands Day, is celebrated every year on 02 February. On this day, in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) was signed in Ramsar, Iran.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated to to “raise awareness and understanding of what wetlands are and how we can contribute towards restoring them through making conscious choices, becoming persuasive voices and taking bold actions” (read more here).
What is a wetland?
A wetland is defined as the land which is transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the
surface, or the land is periodically covered with shallow water, and which land in normal circumstances supports or would support vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil (1).
Why is wetland restoration so important? Listed below are a few benefits of wetland restoration:
- Enhanced biodiversity
- Improve water supply
- Store carbon
- Reduced impacts from flooding
- Improve livelihoods
- Enhance well–being
- Protection of agricultural resources (1; 2)
Is your role in wetland restoration important?
Yes! Our individual and collective actions have an impact (1).
What can you as individual do to help protect and preserve wetlands?
- Participate in programs that help protect and restore wetlands.
- Report illegal actions such as unauthorized wetland fill or dredging activities to government authorities
- Pick up litter and dispose in appropriate trash containers. Keep surface areas that wash into storm drains clean from pet waste, toxic chemicals, fertilizers and motor oil, which can eventually reach and impair our wetlands.
- Use native species when planting trees, shrubs and flowers to preserve the ecological balance of local wetlands.
- Avoid wetland when you are expanding your house.
- Use phosphate-free laundry and dishwasher detergents. Phosphates encourage algae growth, which can suffocate aquatic life.
- Use non-toxic products for household cleaning and lawn and garden care. Never spray lawn and garden chemicals outside on a windy day or on a day that it might rain and wash the chemicals into waterways.
- Enjoy the scenic and recreational opportunities wetlands offer, while preserving their integrity for future generations by minimizing the use of heavy equipment and staying in designated visitor areas where available (3).
Did you know that the South African Prince Edward Islands (Prince Edward Island and Marion Island) is declared as Wetland of International Importance?
The Prince Edward Islands was declared Wetland of International Importance: Ramsar Site No.1688, on 22 May 2007. The conservation and management of this site falls within the responsibility of the Directorate: Southern Oceans and Antarctic Support of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.
Want to know about wetlands in South Africa?
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Anche Louw, South African Polar Research Infrastructure, 02 February 2023.