World Wetlands Day 2002: USA

05/02/2002

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USIA Washington File

Text: World Wetlands Day Celebrated February 2

(Marks 31st anniversary of Ramsar Convention) (470)

World Wetlands Day is being celebrated on February 2 to promote public awareness of the value of wetlands, which provide flood control, water purification and storm protection for local communities around the world, according to a press release by the U.S. State Department.

World Wetlands Day will mark the 31st anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which has been signed by 130 countries. The diversity of countries represented has contributed to the decision this year to celebrate the cultural heritage of wetlands, according to the press release.


Many Americans will be engaged in activities February 2 to recognize the work of volunteers in wetlands protection and awareness. Two hundred years ago the United States had twice as much wetlands as it has today, now estimated at around 40 million hectares.

Following is the text of the press release [the original is available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/7770.htm]:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

February 1, 2002

MEDIA NOTE

World Wetlands Day

February 2 is World Wetlands Day, a day celebrated by local communities around the world who are promoting public awareness of the value and functions of wetlands, both for the environment and for people. Many Americans today are engaged in activities to recognize the work of volunteers in wetlands protection and awareness.

World Wetlands Day on February 2 celebrates the day in 1971 when the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was signed in the town of Ramsar, Iran. This year marks the 31st Anniversary of the Convention. From the first 18 countries that signed the treaty, the Convention has grown to 130 parties today. The diversity of countries represented contributed to the decision this year to celebrate the cultural heritage of wetlands. Contracting Parties have listed 1,133 wetlands covering 273,251,980 acres in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

The United States joined the Ramsar Convention in 1986. Americans, and citizens of other countries, in growing numbers are focusing efforts on protecting their local wetlands and recognizing their important values and functions, such as flood control, groundwater replenishment, water purification, storm protection, and havens of biodiversity and cultural values which provide products for local communities.

Two hundred years ago the United States had twice the acreage of wetlands that it has today, now estimated at around 100 million acres. There have been similar decreases in much of the world, and fewer and fewer pristine wetlands remain. World Wetlands Day is commemorated as a time to acknowledge the importance of saving the world's wetlands and to note the work of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in fostering international cooperation in this regard.

For further information, visit the State Department's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Web site at http:www.state.gov/g/oes/env/ and the Ramsar Web site at http://ramsar.org.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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