World Wetlands Day 2010 -- USA
Happy World Wetlands Day 2010!
World Wetlands Day falls on February 2nd each year, presenting an opportunity to join others around the world in celebrating the benefits we receive from wetlands and raise awareness of the importance of these vital ecosystems for our common future. Today marks the 39th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed February 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. The Ramsar Convention is an inter-governmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation to conserve and wisely use wetlands and their resources.
This year’s theme, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change, with the slogan “Caring for wetlands: an answer to climate change”, highlights the role of wetlands in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. However, many existing wetlands are also threatened by climate change and sea level rise, and wetland biodiversity can be adversely affected by climate change. Consequently, the ability of wetlands to provide crucial ecosystem services, such as recharging of groundwater reservoirs, purifying water quality, reducing floods, protecting shores from storm surge, and supporting fisheries, recreation and cultural values also is increasingly threatened.
Recognizing the importance of wetlands, the United States joined the Ramsar Convention in 1987. The treaty’s 159 Contracting Parties have designated more than 1,886 wetlands sites totaling over 185 million hectares for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. With the May 2009 addition of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida, the United States now has 26 Ramsar sites covering over 1.4 million hectares.
In the words of Ramsar Secretary General Anada Tiega, “I encourage you to take part in World Wetlands Day at the appropriate local or national level, to join with us in renewing our commitment to making sure that the benefits of wetlands are understood by decision-makers, and to continue to raise the awareness of our fellow citizens, throughout the year, about the importance of well-functioning wetlands for all of us.”
If you’d like to learn more about the work of Ramsar, I highly recommend the following websites. Also, Kathleen Kutschenreuter and Clay Miller can share personal knowledge from their participation in recent Ramsar forums. You’ll be hearing again from me in May--”American Wetlands Month”--when we will focus our attention on “Coastal Wetlands”.
David Evans, Director Wetlands Division