published on 2 February 2021 in ecosystems

World Wetlands Day 2021

2 February is World Wetlands Day, set up in 1997 to commemorate the anniversary of the “Convention on Wetlands of International Importance”, signed in Ramsar (Iran) in 1971. The Convention, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was set up by the UN with the aim of preserving environments that host a wide biodiversity (40% of the total) and are of fundamental importance for climate change mitigation , having a high capacity to store carbon dioxide. These ecosystems are often very fragile and are now being severely tested by climate change and human pressure. Suffice it to say that in the last fifty years in Europe, two thirds have disappeared and many are severely degraded.

Wetlands play a fundamental role for the planet and human survival: they are a valuable source of fresh water and food; they are home to a wide variety of organisms including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates and about 10% of all aquatic species.  This year’s theme, “Water, wetlands and life are inseparable”, emphasises the importance of the services that wetlands provide, along with the need for their maintenance or restoration.

One of the merits of the Convention is that it has clearly defined the concept of wetlands. These are land areas that are permanently or seasonally saturated or inundated with water. Inland areas include marshes, ponds, lakes, and floodplains; coastal areas, comprise salt-water marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons, and even coral reefs. Ponds, paddy-fields and salt marshes are man-made wetlands. The convention – signed by over 150 countries – currently identifies almost 2000 wetlands globally, for which it supports the principles of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. In Italy there are 65 wetlands (according to the definition of the convention), nine of which are still being implemented, for a total of more than eighty thousand hectares spread over 15 Regions.

The aim of the event is to raise public awareness of the vital role played by wetlands in the well-being of the environment, so that everyone can learn more about them and make a tangible commitment to safeguarding these areas.

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