World Wetlands Day 2006 in the United States
02 February 2006
United States Recognizes World Wetlands Day
"Wetlands are lifelines" theme emphasizes value of these vulnerable ecosystems
U.S. embassies are joining local communities in many world regions in observing World Wetlands Day February 2.
The annual event marks the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, which is devoted to stopping the worldwide loss of wetlands and conservation of those remaining. The 150 party nations together have provided protections for more than 1.2 million square kilometers of wetlands, designating them wetlands of international importance.
The United States is a party to the treaty, and President Bush announced domestic initiatives to advance the international goals in 2004 when he set new goals to create, improve and protect at least 12,000 square kilometers of wetlands over the next five years.
A description of Wetlands Day activities are described in a media note from the U.S. State Department as follows:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
February 2, 2006
World Wetlands Day
On February 2, United States Embassies from South America to the Middle East will join their local communities to commemorate World Wetlands Day, an annual celebration of the vital importance of wetlands to the world's ecological health and of efforts to conserve these invaluable habitats. The day marks the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed February 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
This year's theme, "In the face of poverty ... wetlands are lifelines," emphasizes the essential role of well-managed wetlands in poverty alleviation. Wetlands provide a crucial source of food, water, and natural products. In rural areas, wetlands are a primary source of income, and can be vital when other income sources fail. They also play an important role as a source of recreation, transportation, and cultural heritage.
Wetlands play a vital role in storm and flood protection and water filtration. They provide groundwater replenishment, benefiting inhabitants of entire watersheds. In addition, they provide a rich feeding ground for migratory birds, fish, and other animals and boost local economies through opportunities for the harvesting of aquatic resources and ecotourism.
Recognizing the importance of wetlands, the U.S. in 1987 joined the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty that aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain. The treaty's 150 Contracting Parties have designated more than 1500 wetlands sites totaling more than 300 million acres for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. On Earth Day 2004, President Bush announced an aggressive new national initiative to move beyond a policy of "no net loss" of wetlands to an overall increase of wetlands in America. The President's goal is to create, improve, and protect at least three million wetland acres over the next five years in order to increase overall wetland acreage and quality.
The U.S. currently has 22 Ramsar sites covering nearly 3.2 million acres. This includes three sites designated in 2005, two in California and one in Hawaii.
For further information, visit the State Department's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Web site at http://www.state.gov/g/oes and the Ramsar Web site at http://ramsar.org/ .
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)