February 2nd is known as World Wetlands Day: this day marks the anniversary of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands which was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The theme of this year’s celebrations is ‘Wetlands and Water Management’, which fits nicely with the UN International Year of Water Cooperation. Water is a precious resource, which we all share, and wetlands play no small part in water management.
Wetlands are incredibly important ecosystems, delivering a multitude of benefits to us all. Wetland plants and microorganisms filter water by trapping sediment and absorbing most of the pollutants. Coastal wetlands protect coastlines from storm surges, slowing down the water and reducing the impact. Inland wetlands can store vast amounts of floodwaters, thus reducing flooding downstream. Wetlands are some of the most biodiverse areas in the world, with huge populations of birds that breed there or use wetlands as pit stops on their migration routes. Wetlands are also home to large number of reptile, amphibian, mammal, fish and insect species, not to mention wetland plants, which are usually not found anywhere else. All these functions and values of wetlands are being recognised more and more, and wetland restoration is on the rise globally (see example from Louisiana).
For this occasion, below is a selection of wetland bric a brac. Hopefully, some of this will get you excited about these extremely valuable but also highly degraded ecosystems. There’s so much we can do (and need to do) to ensure proper function and health of wetlands worldwide. Starting with learning more about them.
- Probably the coolest example of the union between ecology and business: TED talk by Dan Barber ‘How I fell in love with a fish’
- Wetlands are some of the most effective ecosystems at storing and sequestering carbon: Wetland Restoration: The Best Alternative to Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies?
- And this:
- And this:
- Google ‘vernal pools‘. Promise, you won’t be disappointed.
- Some interesting research on the response of tidal marshes to sea level rise.
- Edinburgh Uni research on salt marshes.
- Eco-engineering: Reintroduction of beavers as a tool of wetland restoration by me!
And there’s much more! Keep your eyes peeled for more on this topic as I embark on my wetland restoration-themed dissertation :-)
Oh, and inform others of this great World Wetlands Day, send a beautiful e-card!