World Wetlands Day – Celebrating Our Wetlands

azraq-wetland-jordanWorld Wetlands Day (WWD) is celebrated on 2nd February every year. It marks the date of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971. WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997. Every year there is a different theme and the theme for World Wetlands Day 2018 is “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”.

What is a Wetland

A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, natural or artificial, static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salty and include areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters. The unique feature of wetland is its characteristic vegetation and soil conditions. We need to know that more than a billion people make a living from wetlands. Livelihoods from fishing, rice farming, travel, ecotourism, and water provision all depend on wetlands. They are vital to us in many other ways.

Importance of Wetlands

Wetlands play an important role in the processes that keep our landscapes healthy and productive. They support industries such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism by supplying water for crops, stock and people, maintaining water quality, providing habitat for commercial species and having cultural and recreational values. Wetlands host a vast variety of life, protect our coastlines, provides natural defenses against river flooding or storm surges and store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change.

Wetlands cover less than 10% of the earth’s surface, but are the source of almost 25% of the world’s productivity. Wetlands play a major role in the environment, mainly water purification, flood control and shoreline stability in addition to recreation. Wetlands are home to a wide range of plant and animal life and are called the sponge of the natural world as they absorb much of the pollution we produce. They filter out pollutants and slowly release clean water and oxygen back into the ecosystem. Unfortunately, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland, and more than 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is an annual opportunity to raise public awareness and promote the value of wetlands. To celebrate World Wetlands Day (WWD) event, variety of programs like seminars, lectures, nature walks, sports, competitions, poster exhibitions, video films screening, slide shows based on the wetland, art and quiz competitions, painting competition, photography exhibition, community cleanup, interviews on radio and television are organized at the area, locality, city and national level at many places.

The event celebration plays a great role in making the healthy wetlands in order to deliver the worth ecosystem service to benefit the common people. The demands of water required for growing crops, energy supply and various needs of the industry are also focused during the WWD celebrations. It is mainly celebrated to promote the proper use of wetlands and their resources.

Flamingos at Dohat Arad marine reserve in Bahrain

The Ramsar Convention offers an international structure in order to globally support the conservation and sustainable management of the wetlands. It is celebrated to make aware the public, discus the value of wetlands, its beneficial aspects as well as to promote its conservation and use for enhancing the overall level of the human health, growth and development.

Wetlands in Bahrain

Bahrain is very keen in the protection of biodiversity and natural heritage and has established Al Areen wildlife reserve in 1976. The principal wetlands in Bahrain are coastal mudflats. The country became a party on the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1996, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1997. There are six protected natural reserves, the Al Areen park being terrestrial reserve others are marine protected areas namely Ras Sannad in Tubli Bay, Hawar Islands, Mashtan, Dohat Arad and Hayr Bulthama. The protection of the biodiversity is incorporated in Bahrain National Environment Strategy.

Conclusion

We need to appreciate the wetlands and avoid littering and discharging any hazardous effluents into water bodies including pesticides, fertilizers, detergents, soaps and chemicals as it will change the nutrient levels and may kill fish and destroy wetland ecosystem.

Let us spread the message and enhance awareness on wetland conservation and protection. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat has developed a number of downloadable World Wetlands Day materials for 2018. These materials can be found on the website. Groups and individuals are encouraged to adapt these materials for their own World Wetlands Day events and activities.

About Rehan Ahmad

Rehan Ahmed is currently working as Head of Waste Disposal Unit at Supreme Council for Environment, Kingdom of Bahrain. He has over thirty four years of professional experience on projects related to waste management, recycling, reuse and recovery & environmental impacts assessments. Rehan has been instrumental in construction, development, operation and management of Hafira industrial landfill site and establishment of healthcare waste treatment facility in Bahrain.
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