World Wetlands Day 2000: Australia




World Wetlands Day – 2 February

Abbie Spiers, Wetland Ecology and Conservation

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On 2 February every year it is World Wetlands Day, to celebrate the existence of wetlands and highlight the exciting and important things about wetlands. Activities like wetland excursions, press releases and the launching of wetland policies are planned worldwide to mark this special day.

This year the theme is Celebrating Our Wetlands of International Importance. Here in Jabiru we are very fortunate, as we have the internationally important wetlands of Kakadu National Park right on our doorstep!

World Wetlands Day is on 2 February because that is the anniversary of the signing of an international treaty – the Convention on Wetlands – in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands exists to promote the conservation and sustainable use of wetland habitats. To date this treaty has been signed by 118 countries, registering over 1000 sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Australia signed the Ramsar Convention in 1975 and has 53 sites on the List, including the wetlands of Kakadu National Park and Cobourg Peninsula.

Wetlands help keep our water clean by filtering out sediments, chemicals and other pollutants. Wetlands are highly productive and support many animals and plant species, which in turn provide food and materials for people all over the world. Here in the Northern Territory we have many different types of wetlands, including desert rockholes, escarpment waterfalls, vast floodplains, coastal mangroves and saltflats. Each wetland is unique, so it is very important that we recognise the value of wetlands and make wise use of wetland resources. Many wetlands have already been destroyed or degraded, but countries all over the world are now recognising that wetlands are valuable assets for achieving sustainable development and are legislating to protect them.

So, think about wetlands this week – go for a birdwatching ramble around Lake Jabiru, take a boat cruise on Yellow Waters, visit the Mamukala bird hide – or just listen to the frogs outside your window when it rains next!

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Floodplain wetland in Arnhem Land (Photo: A.G. Spiers)

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Magpie geese in Kakadu National Park (Photo: C.M. Finlayson)

If you’d like more information, you are welcome to contact the author at eriss on (08) 8979 9711.

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The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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