February 22, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

World Wetlands Day observed

The Nepal Weekly
February 6, 2024

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on the second day of February every year, though it was not originally celebrated until 1997. This day serves to the influence and positive production that Wetlands have had on the world and in terms brings communities together for the benefit of Mother Nature. This day, also raises global awareness because wetlands play a significant role not only in people but in the planet. Community protectors and environmental enthusiast all come together on this day to celebrate their love for nature through celebration, which recognizes what wetlands have done for not only us humans, but all sorts of organisms in this world.

This year the occasion is celebrated with the slogan “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing.”

Over time, human construction has led to various ecological problems affecting wetlands. Overpopulation and construction has led to a decrease in environmental conservation and in total has brought upon issues to these lands. Many wetlands are being lost and ecologists claim that human should recognize the dilemma before the loss of a natural filter and conserver of the world.

Wetlands are ecosystems where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. A broad definition of wetlands includes both freshwater and marine and coastal ecosystems such as all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fishponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and saltpans.

These lands are critical to people and nature, given the intrinsic value of these ecosystems, and their benefits and services, including their environmental, climate, ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic contributions to sustainable development and human wellbeing.

Though they cover only around 6 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, 40 per cent of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands. Wetland biodiversity matters for our health, our food supply, for tourism and for jobs. Wetlands are vital for humans, for other ecosystems and for our climate, providing essential ecosystem services such as water regulation, including flood control and water purification. More than a billion people across the world depend on wetlands for their livelihoods – that’s about one in eight people on Earth.

Wetlands offer vital freshwater, hosting over 100,000 species. They sustain humanity, exemplified by rice grown on wetland paddies, a staple for three billion people, contributing to 20% of global food. Additionally, wetlands act as natural shock absorbers, mitigating rainfall impacts and lowering flood and storm surge risks. 

Relevant Government entities and various climate and environment institutions organized programmes like educational workshops, cleanliness drives, and expert seminars to celebrated the day in Nepal. They raised awareness on ecological and economic wetland services like water filtration, flood control, and agrobiodiversity reliance of indigenous groups, urging policy enhancements preventing degradation from encroachment, infrastructure, and climate risks exacerbated by global heating.

Nepal spotlights its spectacular array of over 200 wetlands spanning 5% of national land and playing integral environmental roles underpinning community health and safety across the vulnerable Himalayan country.

These diverse wetland ecosystems from tranquil high-altitude lakes to Terai grasslands represent global biodiversity hotspots hosting vital habitats for numerous endangered species while supporting wetland rice harvesting and storm protection ecosystem services benefiting Nepal’s population. Designated Ramsar sites like Rara Lake conserve rare endemic fish and migratory cranes while providing ecotourism jobs balancing conservation aims. Nepal’s longstanding Ramsar Convention commitments safeguarding 60,000 wetland hectares through 10 designated Wetlands of International Importance sites protecting the country’s reputation as a proud haven for rare waterbirds, rhinos, dolphins, crocodiles, and apex Gharial species threatened by habitat erosion. Panelists emphasized balancing community access facilitating sustainable harvesting of wetland resources and preserving sufficient zones, enabling wildlife migrations essential to upholding ecological richness benefitting current and future generations if responsibly managed.