World Wetlands Day

1 February 2013


A message from JNCC Chair Peter Bridgewater:


2 February marks World Wetlands Day - the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year World Wetlands Day has a different theme, and this year it’s Wetlands and water management.   

Wetlands play a key role in the water cycle, and are protectors, providers and purifiers of water.  It sounds trite but without water there would be no wetlands and the obverse is true, without wetlands there would be no water.  Wetlands make an essential contribution to water management. The role of various wetlands in “dampening” the hydrological cycle, soaking up floodwaters and being a water source in drought are well known and documented.  Perhaps less well understood is the three-dimensional nature of wetlands, where the water can flow both above and below ground, and wetlands help to control those flows.

This is obvious in open landscapes, but it is equally true in urban areas, where wetlands can help water management – and often are human constructed wetlands.  The Ramsar Convention recognises the importance of both naturally occurring and human constructed wetlands, one of the few international regimes that sees the importance of human structures in conserving wetland biodiversity and in managing the hydrological cycle.

So, on Saturday go and see and a wetland, whether saltmarsh, swamp, river, pond,  lake or reservoir, and think about what the wetland is doing to help manage water for us all!