World Wetlands Day 2017: Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February, marking the date in 1971 when the Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar, drawing attention to the importance of wetlands.
The theme for 2017 “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” is selected to raise awareness and to highlight the vital role of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as floods, droughts and cyclones on communities, and in helping to build resilience.
As an important category of wetlands, mangrove forests grow along tropical coastlines and in salt water environments. They are a critical component of marine ecosystems, serving as nursery grounds for many aquatic species, including commercially important fish species. Mangroves also serve as excellent buffer zones between open ocean and coastal lands, reducing the impacts of storms, and keeping coastal erosion under control. Mangrove forests were also shown to have reduced the impact of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami. These rich ecosystems are threatened mostly by conversion into aquaculture (shrimp farms) and agriculture, urban and resort development and rising sea levels.
The World Heritage Convention is an important instrument for the conservation of these endangered ecosystems. Several World Heritage sites have been inscribed in large part due to their rich mangrove ecosystems. The Sundarbans National Park in India, and the neighbouring Sundarbans in Bangladesh together account for the largest area of protected mangroves in the world.
Healthy natural World Heritage sites as well as healthy wetlands contribute tremendously to disaster risk reduction and poverty reduction, help alleviate food insecurity, combat climate change, and restore and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems.
Many wetlands are recognized simultaneously under several international designations, which demonstrate the multiple values that they provide. In September 2016, the new report by IUCN, prepared in coordination with the secretariats of the Ramsar Convention and UNESCO, “Managing MIDAs – Harmonizing the Management of Multi-Internationally Designated Areas: Ramsar Sites, World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks” was launched with the aim to support integrated management of these areas.
Explore more at: http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/