Focus: GS III: Environment and Ecology
Why in News?
The State Governments and Union Territory administrations celebrated World Wetlands Day (WWD) at all 75 Ramsar sites this year with over 200 events.
What are wetlands?
- A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
- The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
- The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, and fen; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains, mire, vernal pool, sink, and many others.
- The largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.
Importance of Wetlands
Wetlands play a number of functions such as:
- Water storage (flood control)
- Groundwater replenishment
- Shoreline stabilisation and storm protection
- Water purification
- Reservoirs of biodiversity
- Wetland products
- Cultural values
- Recreation and tourism
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation
Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life.
Wetlands, the functions and services they provide as well as their flora and fauna, can be affected by several types of disturbances – the predominant ones include the following:
- Organic loading and reduced dissolved oxygen
- Contaminant toxicity
- Altered solar input (turbidity/shade)
- Vegetation removal
- Thermal alteration
- Habitat fragmentation
- Other human presence
Human Activities that affect Wetlands:
- Unsustainable water use
Wetlands have historically been the victim of large draining efforts for real estate development, or flooding for use as recreational lakes or hydropower generation.
World Wetlands Day
- World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on the 2nd of February as it marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar (Popularly known as Ramsar Convention).
- The theme for World Wetlands Day 2022 “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”, which highlights the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health.
- This day serves to recognize the influence and positive production that Wetlands have had on the world and in terms brings communities together for the benefit of Mother Nature.
What is a Ramsar Site?
- A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- Ramsar sites are recorded on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance.
- The Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type is a wetland classification developed within the Ramsar Convention intended as a means for fast identification of the main types of wetlands for the purposes of the Convention.
- The countries with most sites are the United Kingdom with 175 and Mexico with 142.
- The country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia.
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
- It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
- The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands.
- The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
- Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention and improve the way in which the Parties are able to implement its objectives.