World Wetlands Day is observed on 2 February to raise awareness about the need to conserve wetlands, emphasise their importance in the ecosystem and the role they play in climate change mitigation.
What are wetlands?
As per the definition of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wetlands are areas where “water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season”.
According to the Ramsar Convention, wetlands comprises both natural and man-made sites including lakes, swamps, marshes, mangroves, salt pans, tidal flats and reservoirs.
Why is World Wetlands Day celebrated on 2 February?
World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February as it marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran. In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 75/317, which proclaimed World Wetlands Day on 2 February.
Theme for World Wetlands Day 2022:
This year, the theme is “Wetlands Action for People and Nature” to draw attention to the sustainable use of wetlands and promote conservation efforts.
What is the significance of wetlands?
Wetlands play a crucial role in water security. They are responsible for nurturing complex ecosystems. Wetlands also provide a barrier against natural disasters such as flooding. They also help fight climate change and prevent soil erosion.
Wetlands also act as carbon stores, and form one of the most important sinks for greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
How many wetlands sites are there in India?
According to Ramsar, India has 47 Wetlands of International Importance sites, with a surface area of 1,090,230 hectares.
As per Wetlands International South Asia, India has lost nearly 30 per cent of its wetlands in the last three decades.
The lack of conservation of wetlands can have harmful consequences in several aspects such as climate change mitigation, water and food security, disaster management and so on. Therefore, conservation of wetlands is crucial to prevent the biodiversity of the country.