World Wetland Day

Kaustubh Bhagat 

Hi friends... Just wanted to ask, do you know what is tomorrow? Yes, I know it is a Sunday and you might want to laze around. But tomorrow is also 2 February, which is observed as World Wetlands Day. What are wetlands and why this day, you may ask?

Wetlands are areas like marshes, peats, estuaries or where water can be static or flowing. They can be artificial or natural in origin, as well as perennial or seasonal. These include areas with fresh or brackish water, as well as marine areas where depth of water does not exceed six metres in low tide. The wetlands include ecosystems like mangroves, coral reefs, flood plains and even rice fields.

The wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. A study by Constanza and his team shows that the wetlands provide us ecosystem services worth USD 4.9 trillion. These services include fisheries, agriculture, water resource, flood plain control, just to name a few. However, wetlands are under tremendous pressure due to rising human population. The demand for freshwater itself has risen many fold in last decade. In addition there is demand for land to feed the ever increasing population. A UNESCO report points towards 70% increase in global food demand by 2050. The land demand for infrastructure projects is ringing a death knell for important wetlands like mangroves and lakes. These problems are not just restricted to a few countries, but are global. So, in 1971 an International convention called as ‘The Convention on Wetlands’ was convened at Ramsar Iran (popularly known as the Ramsar Convention). An intergovernmental treaty was adopted by the member nations of the Convention as a commitment towards sustainable use of wetlands within their territories. It was also decided to celebrate 2 February as World Wetland Day to commemorate the Convention and create awareness about wetlands.

This year (2014) the theme for the World Wetland Day is ‘Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth.’ The emphasis is on achieving cohesion between wetlands and agriculture for best outcomes as against their traditional roles of antagonist parties.

So, what are you doing tomorrow? How about visiting a wetland? Try organising a clean-up campaign for wetland near you. Too short a notice?? Try talking about wetland with your friends and families or even blog or tweet about them. Wish you a Happy Wetland Day!!!

Some wetlands in and around Mumbai
·         Sewri mudflats
·         Godrej mangroves
·         Thane creek
·         Vashi mangroves
·         Airoli creek
·         Talawe

·         Powai lake

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