Wetlands , Peatlands and Ramsar Convention - Seeker's Thoughts

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Saturday, 9 March 2019

Wetlands , Peatlands and Ramsar Convention


Threats to Wetlands


Conversion of wetlands for commercial development, drainage schemes, extraction of minerals and peat, overfishing, tourism, siltation, pesticide discharges from intensive agriculture, toxic pollutants from industrial waste, and the construction of dams and dikes, often in an attempt at flood protection, are major threats to wetlands everywhere.
 
Over half of the world's wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Development and conversion continue to pose major threats to wetlands, despite their value and importance.


The Impact of Climate change on wetlands
Climate Change is also taking its toll. Increases in temperature are causing polar ice to melt and sea levels to rise. This in turn is leading to shallow wetlands being swamped and some species of mangrove trees being submerged and drowned.

Yet at the same time, other wetlands - estuaries, floodplains, and marshes - are being destroyed through drought.
 
What is Wetland?

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen free processes prevail the primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or waterbodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plant adopted to the unique hydric soil. 

Wetlands play a number of important roles in the environment principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. 


Types of wetlands: - Wetlands can be various types like - swamp, marsh, bog, fen, and peatland.



Why there is need to celebrate World Wetland Day?

The world wetlands Day aims to bring attention towards the protection of the fragile wetlands which are threatened by human activity.

The rate of disappearance of wetlands is 1% which is at higher rate than deforestation. Wetlands are also exposed to draining and burning for agriculture enterprise and rural development, as well as rising sea levels.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February 1971 to commemorate the signing of the convention on wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention at the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The fold-fold objectives of the Ramsar convention are conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands and stop the encroachment and loss of wetlands.


World wetlands day

World Wetlands Day was celebrated on February 2nd with the theme of “wetlands and climate change”. The theme signifies the importance of healthy and intact wetlands to one of the most pressing challenges of our times, climate change.

 The purpose of the theme this year to initiate action against the drainage of wetland and increasing awareness of importance of wetland, such as swamps, marshes, mangroves or peatlands, which helps to mitigate global warming.

Ramsar Convention - It is intergovernmental treaty that provide the framework for the conservation They all approved the fourth Ramsar strategic plan for 2016-2024 at COP12.


The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then almost 90% of UN member states from all the world's geographic region have acceded to become "contracting parties".

Peatlands- In 2017 scientist discovered world's largest tropical peatland found in Congo Basin.

Carbon-rich peatlands could store three years’ worth of world's total fossil fuel emission. The Central Congo Basin peatland cover 145,500 Sq. km an area larger than England. The swamps could lock 30bn tonnes of carbon that was previously not known to exist making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystem on earth.

What is peatland - Peatland is an organic wetland soil made from part-decomposed plant debris more commonly found in cool environments, such as northern Russia, Europe and Canada. Healthy peatland act as carbon sinks, removing carbon from the atmosphere through plant growth.