Wetlands are among the most productive, biodiverse and economically valuable ecosystems in the world. Wetlands can be considered as the biological supermarket as they provide great volumes of food that attract many animal species. Wetlands have all the important features in their ecosystem that provide numerous beneficial services for people, for fish and for wildlife.
Understanding Wetlands: Wetlands can be defined as the ecosystem where water bodies meet land. An area which is saturated or flooded with water permanently or seasonally.
It is a distinct ecosystem that stands out from other landforms or water bodies due to its characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants.
It may include mangroves and marshes, swamps, rivers, lakes and other water bodies. Some of its services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.
Importance of wetlands:
- They are the nurseries of life as 40% of the species breed in wetlands.
- They are the housekeepers of earth as they clean the environment of pollutants.
- They are the thermostats of climate as they store 30% of land based carbon.
- They are the disaster managers as they absorb storm surge minimizing the storm risk.
- Above all they provide livelihood to one billion people…
Yet they are depleting 3 times faster than the forests.
Global Wake-up Call: Despite their essential role in climate change, biodiversity prevention and freshwater supply; wetlands remain undervalued by policy and decision-makers. Approximately 35% of the water wetlands were lost globally in the past 20 years and the rate is accelerating considerably. The wetlands are under threat due to water drainage, pollution, unsustainable use, deforestation and disruptive dam flows.
The Global Wetland Outlook is a wake-up call not only on the steep rate of loss of the world’s wetlands but also on the critical services they provide. Without them, the global agenda on sustainable development will not be achieved.
Across the globe, legislative bodies need to integrate wetlands into policy programs and make investments into their sustainability. We need to educate the world on the critical importance of this most rapidly disappearing ecosystem. Without the world’s wetlands, we all hang in the balance.
We need urgent collective actions to reverse trends on wetland loss and degradation, and secure both the future of wetlands and our own at the same time.