Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2013 in Africa

World Wetlands Day is celebrated around the world each year on the 2nd of February through lectures, nature walks, children’s art contests and community cleanup days. World Wetlands Day commemorates the adoption of the international convention on wetlands, the Ramsar Convention, which was adopted in Iran in 1971. It also aims to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits.

The theme for this year is wetlands and water management. According to Anada Tiéga, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, “Our WWD focus this year is the chance for all of us working for wetlands to convince those who manage water that wetlands are not competitors for water but rather they are essential components of water infrastructure, providing a clean source and store of freshwater.”

The escape...

Lechwe, Botswana. Photo: Tarique Sani

 

What are wetlands and why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. This includes 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. The main types of wetlands are marine wetlands (such as lagoons and coral reefs), estuarine, lacustrine, riverine and palustrine (meaning ‘marshy’).

Wetlands are some of the world’s most productive environments and are areas of biological diversity, providing the water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. Wetlands also support high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrate species and act as storehouses of plant genetic material.

Healthy wetland ecosystems provide valuable services – such as water purification, climate change mitigation, shoreline stabilization and storm protection and flood control – making wetlands essential for health, well-being and sustainable livelihoods.

African Wetlands of International Importance

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance includes thousands of sites around the world that are being conserved and sustainable used in line with the ambit of the convention. Ramsar sites in Africa include the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe nature reserve in DRC, Niumi National Park in Gambia, Orange River Mouth in Namibia and Kosi Bay in South Africa.

Kosi Bay Wetlands

Kosi Bay lakes in South Africa are a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and form part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa. Photo: K.Berrisford

 

Ideas for celebrating World Wetlands Day 2013 in Africa
  • Visit a Wetland near to where you live
  • Organize or take part in a wetland cleanup
  • Host a discussion on wetlands and water management
  • Learn more about wetlands
  • Share photos and stories about wetlands with friends and colleagues
  • Host a children’s wetlands colouring in competition
  • Organize a workshop to exchange of information and ideas between wetland practitioners about how to effectively manage and restore wetlands
  • Commit to using eco friendly and biodegradable soaps and detergents
  • Support organisations involved in wetland rehabilitation and management

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