Wetlands are the world's most essential and delicate ecosystem that supports distinct habitation of plants and animals and furnish bread and butter to the millions of beings throughout the world. Wetlands are responsible for storing and capturing carbon.
They are present in every country around the climatic zones - from the Polar Regions to tropical belts and from high altitudes to coastal areas and the arid and dry deserts. World Wetlands Day is being observed on February 2nd every year with an aim to raise global awareness about the crucial role played by wetlands for people and our planet.
What are Wetlands and why it matters?
The Forest is considered as the 'Lungs of the earth', similarly, wetlands are considered as the 'kidneys' as they regulate water and do filtration of waste from the landscape. The Geographical area of India is covered with about 4.63% of wetlands.
Wetlands are the portion of land that is covered with water whether seasonally or permanently. They usually develop where the water unites with the lands.
As per the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands which was sanctioned by the Indian Government in 1982, "Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which, at low tides, does not exceed six meters". The Convention also states that "wetlands may include riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six meters at low tide lying within the wetlands."
Wetlands basically are the mangroves and marshes, peatlands, rivers, lakes and other water bodies, deltas, floodplains and swamps in forested areas, paddy-fields, and coral reefs. Wetlands are the protected areas under the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Throughout the world, there are about 2,400 protected wetlands.
Why are Wetlands important for mankind?
Wetlands ecosystems are vital parts of the hydrological cycle, highly productive, support rich biodiversity and provide a wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood mitigation, storm buffers, erosion control, and aquifer recharge, and microclimate regulation, aesthetic enhancement of landscapes while simultaneously supporting many significant recreational, social and cultural activities. As per UN development, "40% of the world's species live or breed in wetlands, yet they are disappearing three times faster than forests". Billions of people are dependent on wetlands to earn bread and butter; also for water and food. Certain wetlands are responsible for fighting against the impact caused due to climatic change such as extreme weather and flood. They are essential as they are the top carbon stores and conservation can help in the reduction of carbon emissions.
In India, currently, 42 wetlands, with a surface area of over a million hectares are designated as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
World Wetland Day 2021: Theme of this year:
The theme for World Wetlands Day 2021 is 'Wetlands and Water'. It stressed the significance of wetlands as a "source of freshwater and encourages action to restore them and stop their loss". This year's theme for World Wetlands Day is most significant as the UN Decades of Ocean Science and Ecosystem Restoration begins in 2021.
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