With the latest research showing that 64% of wetlands worldwide have been lost since 1900, and that 76% of populations of freshwater plants and animals have disappeared in the last 40 years alone (according to the WWF’s Living Planet report), World Wetlands Day is an important date in the calendar.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on the 2nd February, the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. This convention brings together 168 countries with a shared mission to ensure the wise use of wetlands, and works with individual countries, private sector companies and non-governmental organisations to protect and restore wetlands for global water security.
Wetlands across the globe feed humanity: rice, grown in wetland paddies, is the staple diet of nearly three billion people. The average human consumes 19 kg of fish each year. Most of the fish sold breed and raise their young in coastal waters and estuaries. Most importantly, wetlands are the source of our daily water.
They are also crucial for our wildlife, with wetlands across the UK alive with ducks, geese, swans and waders of all types. In February in particular you can see the fascinating courtship dances of the Great Crested Grebe and the Heron in our wetlands. Frogs will be emerging from their winter hiding places and moving towards their chosen breeding ponds, and frogs spawn is commonly seen this month.
To mark World Wetlands Day The Wildlife Trusts held a number of events across the UK:
At the Nature Discovery Centre, in Thatcham, Berkshire, local Natural History enthusiast Graeme Stewart led a walk and talk on the wetlands.
The Wildlife Trust ran a beach cleaning event along Clonque Bay in Alderney, which is part of the island’s designated Ramsar Site.
There was also a guided walk around the Croxall Lakes Nature Reserve in Staffordshire, one of the Wildlife Trusts best wetland reserves, where many species of winter ducks migrate to.
The Ramsar Convention are running a youth photographic competition to mark the special day. The competition is open to contestants aged 15-24, with the winner receiving the opportunity to visit any Ramsar Site of their choice. For your chance to win, take a photograph of Alderney’s Ramsar Site between 2 February and 2 March 2015 and upload it to the Ramsar Convention website: www.worldwetlandsday.org.
For more information on World Wetlands Day visit: www.worldwetlandsday.org