2 February is World Wetlands Day

The celebration aims to raise awareness about the crucial role wetlands play as they’re essential habitats for the conservation of the Planet’s natural heritage.

Wetlands have an incredible value. They’re home to an extraordinary variety of living beings and are essential for people as they provide them with their livelihoods. By storing carbon dioxide, they also help mitigate the effects of climate change and protect coasts.

Cavaliere d'Italia
Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

What are wetlands 

Wetlands are environments characterised by the combined presence of land and water, such as lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and artificial sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans, as specified by the Ramsar Convention.

64 per cent of wetlands, which are often considered as mere uncultivated areas or wasteland, have disappeared since 1990. In order to safeguard this common heritage, World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February, established in 2003 in occasion of the International Year of Water announced by the United Nations.

64 per cent of wetlands disappeared since 1990

On 2 February 1971 the Ramsar Convention – named after the Iranian city of Ramsar– was signed. The convention provides the global protection of these habitats and was signed to enhance the conservation and a conscious use of wetlands through national and international cooperation in order to achieve a sustainable development. The main threats to wetlands are human-related: pollutants deriving from agriculture, dumping, and the extensive exploitation of resources and soil.

WWF is committed to safeguarding these peculiar environments, especially in Italy. In fact, 40 per cent of Italy’s biodiversity (and almost 50 per cent of bird species) is linked to wetlands, which are also essential to agriculture and tourism.

Airone cenerino
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) eating in a wetland

Wetlands, climate change and cities

The theme for 2019 is “wetlands and climate change“. The 2018 edition was dedicated to the importance of urban wetlands under the slogan “wetlands for a sustainable urban future”. Cities, indeed, depend on these ecosystems that carry out the crucial action of filtering water, absorbing harmful toxins, pesticides and industrial waste. They also help improve resilience in cities by cooling the air.

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