World Wetlands Day
By Erin Jacobs, Conservation Leader
World wetlands day is celebrated every year globally on the 2nd of February to raise awareness about the important role wetlands play to ensure the survival of people and the Earth. Before I explain the importance of wetlands and how vital they are for life on earth. Let me start with an explanation of what wetlands are. A wetland is an ecosystem. An area of land that is covered with water during periods of the year or permanently and are home to many organisms both aquatic and terrestrial.
However, wetlands are vital because they do not only occur naturally but can also be constructed to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as storm-water. This leads me to the first reason wetlands are vital. Wetlands purify our water naturally without any costs or human intervention. They store water to make sure there is water during periods of drought. Wetlands prevent floods and replenish the natural ground-water supply. They help control erosion and provide shelter for fish larvae and fish fry as well as provide homes for animals and plants. They also protect biodiversity as many different fauna and flora depend on wetlands. Wetlands also help with the reproduction and continuation of many animals as they are a place for many animals to reproduce. Lastly they also contain plants which can be used for houses and crafts. Yet despite how useful wetlands are 50% of wetlands have been destroyed which has resulted in the loss of habitat for many species. Leaving them homeless and more prone to extinction.
This year World Wetlands Day theme focuses on wetlands as a source for freshwater – another reason we should be grateful for wetlands is that most of the time they contain freshwater. The theme encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. This is to prevent the growing freshwater crisis. Currently we are consuming more freshwater than what the Earth can replenish thus destroying one of the most significant eco-systems in the world – wetlands.
So, how do we prevent this crisis? Firstly, we can talk about it, spread the message and let people know what is happening. People can only help if they know where their help is needed. You can organise a webinar to discuss what wetlands are and the role they play in the environment. Plan a wetland clean-up day or organise an event that would raise awareness about wetlands like an art exhibit or a wetland tour. If we truly want to invoke change we should educate the youth and young children and this can be done in a classroom environment via discussions and quizzes or competitions based on wetlands. This is not something to be taken lightly. In order to conserve and protect nature all you and I need to do to start is just talk about it and make more people hear. World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year let us make 2021 the year we truly went above and beyond to raise awareness. The time to take action is now!