2 February is World Wetlands Day, and this year it focuses on how wetlands can provide sustainable livelihoods. This day has been celebrated since 1997 and marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, signed in Ramsar in Iran in 1971. This unique treaty aims to conserving natural resources through international cooperation.
Over 60% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900. They are often viewed as wastelands, but they serve many important ecological functions: they cleanse the water, the reduce the risk of flooding, and they harbour a biologically diverse range of wildlife.
With the recent floods in the north of England, we are now forced to question the impact of the loss and degradation of wetlands and other natural flood defences. The Wildlife Trusts argue that:
Across many river catchments soil compaction, caused by intensive grazing and modern farming techniques, mean that the ground is less able to hold water, causing water and soils to run off into rivers and streams. Loss of habitats such as wetlands, peatlands, floodplain meadows, hedgerows and woodlands has also made the countryside less absorbent.
What better day to formulate a plan to restore wetlands to prevent flooding than World Wetlands Day?