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World Wetlands Day, 2010
Source: http://
What is World Wetlands Day?
Celebration of World Wetlands Day takes place on the 2nd February each year. The
purpose of observing this day is to recognize the values and benefits the public and the
economy derive from wetlands. It also intends to heighten public awareness towards
ensuring collective efforts to protect wetlands, especially changing people’s mindset
about the need to harvest resources from wetlands in a sustainable manner.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change”
and various speakers will present papers in line with the above theme. The theme
focuses on wetlands and their biodiversity, the impact of climate change on wetlands
and the relevant mitigating measures. It also presents an opportunity to show how
healthy wetlands can be part of strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
World Wetlands Day theme for this year was suggested looking at Biodiversity and
climate change, the Ramsar convention finally come up with the 2010 World Wetland
Day slogan which say: “Caring for wetlands – an answer to climate change”.
What are Wetlands?
According to working for wetlands and South Africa National Biodiversity Institute
(SANBI), Wetlands are complex, fascinating and dynamic. They are hardworking
ecosystems that provide us with a range of benefits, including some that are not
immediately apparent. The National Wetland Inventory has mapped over 120,000
wetlands, ranging greatly in size and value and accounting for about 7% of South
Africa’s surface area. Different wetland types supply different ecosystem services
including flood attenuation, provision of clean water, and carbon storage. Commonly
referred to as marshes, swamps, bogs or vlei’s, they support a range of specialised
plant, insect, bird and mammal life and also supply wild food, grazing, building and craft
materials to people. In providing these ecosystem services, healthy wetlands play an
important role in keeping people healthy. If we protect healthy wetlands to keep them in
a good condition, and rehabilitate those that have been degraded, we can avoid much
suffering due to droughts, floods and compromised livelihoods, especially for the most
vulnerable members of society.
The health and well-being of people is intricately linked to the state of their environment.
For example, their exposure to water-borne diseases is reduced if they have a good,
clean water supply. There are many such benefits, or ecosystem services that nature
provides that are essential to human health and well-being. But to be able to provide
these services, wetlands ecosystems need to be kept in a healthy condition. As
Wetlands becomes degraded, or less healthy, the services they supplies are usually
reduced. Wetlands ecosystem services operate on such a vast scale and in such
complex ways that most cannot be replaced by human technology. The health and wellbeing of people therefore depends on maintaining healthy Wetlands ecosystems.
The global convention concerned directly with the world’s biodiversity, the Convention on
Biological Diversity, launched a campaign in 2002 to significantly reduce the current rate
of loss of biodiversity at the global, regional and national level by 2010, the “2010 target”,
and this year has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of
Biodiversity. Climate change is only one of many causes of biodiversity loss. This World
Wetlands Day theme is looking at these two key areas; biodiversity loss and climate
change, exploring their relationships and what it all means for wetlands and people. We
are looking at the human role in driving the loss of biodiversity and climate change and
what we can do to find solutions
Wetlands are vulnerable to human-induced climate change but, if we manage them
well, wetland ecosystems and their biodiversity also have a role to play in the mitigation
of climate change and will be important in helping humans to adapt to climate change
through their critical role in ensuring water and food security. As our WWD slogan
suggests, caring for wetlands is a part of the solution to climate change.
The Department of Environmental Affairs; SANBI, working for Wetlands, Water Affairs,
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Water Research Commission will be hosting
the world wetlands celebration event , on the 2nd February 2010 at SANBI and Rietvlei
Nature Reserve. The sessions will be divided as follows: first session will be at SANBI
10H00 AM and the second session will be hosted at Rietvlei Nature Reserve: time to be
announced at the first session.