2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called Ramsar Convention, on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning.
Each year since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials so that government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation organizations, and groups of citizens can help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.
What are Wetlands?
Wetlands are habitats that fall between the environmental spectrum of land and water. Since wetlands lie at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, they are among planet’s most diverse and varied habitats. Wetlands are highly productive and rich in nutrients, they provide ideal habitat for fish, amphibians, shellfish, and insects. Additionally, many birds and mammals rely on wetlands for food, water, breeding grounds, and shelter.
Wetlands are characterised by the soils, hydrology, and species that occur within them. Wetland soils, known as hydric soils, are shaped by water. These soils are saturated or even submerged all or part of the year. Wetlands occur in all ecological regions throughout the world except Antarctica.
Ramsar International Wetland Conservation Treaty
The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands and their resources. The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem.
The types of wetlands covered in its mission includes lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.
[Credit – ramsar.org]