World Wetlands Day is celebrated on the 2nd of February each year to raise awareness about wetlands! Now, if you’re sat here thinking ‘what on earth is a wetland’ hang tight, because we’re about to tell you everything you need to know.
A wetland, in short, is a land area that is saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally and they are found around the world. They are estimated to cover around 7% of the earth’s surface and are an essential ecosystem to life on earth.
Wetlands provide natural protection against climate change, floods, droughts, and pollution. They are extremely good at storing rain and wetlands like mangroves and salt marshes help to shield us from events like flooding, tsunamis and even cyclones!
Wetlands are one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats, providing homes for hundreds of different species, in fact, 40% of the worlds plants and animals depend on wetlands, THAT’S how important they are. From alligators to beavers, beetles, and bullfrogs, they all depend on wetlands as a safe space to live and breed.
Wetlands can store huge amounts of carbon; they are one of the most effective carbon sinks on the planet - Peatlands store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined! They are vital in our fight against climate change due to their crucial role in reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
Now for the bad news, wetlands are in trouble! 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Invasive species, farming, and climate change are all contributors to the decline in wetlands. Studies show that they are declining 3x faster than forests and 25% of the species that live and thrive in wetlands are facing extinction.
Don’t worry, it’s not all bad news! Unlike many other ecosystems, new wetlands can be created in a matter of months and years thanks to incredible charities like the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust who work tirelessly to ensure new wetlands are created, and existing ones are protected from development.
So, what can you do to support wetland conservation? Here’s a few ideas from Colin:
· Shop consciously! Many toxic products, like cleaning sprays, end up in our waterways and eventually to wetlands.
· This is an obvious one but don’t throw waste or rubbish into wetlands.
· Adopt a plant-based diet that has a lower environmental impact.
· Join a wetland clean-up day.
· Get directly involved in a local wetland restoration project. Click here to find your local wetland centre and learn more about how you can join, visit and get involved!