Wetlands, often overlooked yet crucial ecosystems, face an alarming rate of decline, loss, and degradation. As harbingers of biodiversity and essential ecosystem functions, wetlands are silently vanishing, with indicators projecting a continuation of this troubling trend. Rapid human population growth, unsustainable practices, and the impacts of climate change pose direct threats to these vital lifelines.
“WETLANDS AND HUMAN WELLBEING”
The theme for World Wetlands Day, “Wetlands and human wellbeing,” aims to illuminate the interconnectedness of human life with the health of the world’s wetlands. Physical, mental, and environmental aspects of wellbeing are intricately linked to the state of these ecosystems, urging global attention to their preservation.
A DIRE REALITY
Wetlands, disappearing at a rate three times faster than forests, stand as the most threatened ecosystem on Earth. Over the past 50 years, a staggering 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost. Human activities, from drainage for agriculture to climate change impacts, contribute to this crisis, creating a vicious cycle of wetland loss, jeopardized livelihoods, and deepening poverty.
The root cause lies in perceiving wetland as wastelands rather than recognizing them as life-giving sources. This mindset perpetuates the cycle of loss, threatening not only the environment but also the jobs, incomes, and essential ecosystem services that wetland provides. A crucial challenge is to reshape mindsets, urging governments and communities to value and prioritize the preservation of these vital ecosystems.
THE ESSENCE OF WETLANDS
Wetlands encompass a diverse range of ecosystems where water plays a pivotal role in shaping the environment and supporting plant and animal life. This broad definition includes freshwater and marine ecosystems, from lakes and rivers to mangroves and tidal flats. Wetlands, such as swamps, marshes, and estuaries, contribute to the intrinsic value of our planet, offering a myriad of benefits and services.
BIODIVERSITY AND BEYOND
Though covering a mere 6% of the Earth’s land surface, wetland host an astounding 40% of all plant and animal species. Beyond their intrinsic value, wetland contribute significantly to environmental, climate, ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human wellbeing.
Wetland biodiversity is not merely a statistic but a lifeline for our health, food supply, tourism, and employment. These ecosystems play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance, providing essential services such as water regulation, flood control, and purification. More than a billion people, approximately one in eight on Earth, depend on wetland for their livelihoods, emphasizing the irreplaceable role these ecosystems play in sustaining human life.
BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RAMSAR CONVENTION.
Recognition and Conservation
Identifying threatened wetlands and facilitating the development of national-level policies for their wise use.
Promoting conservation efforts to ensure the sustainability of wetland ecosystems.