World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February every year, to mark the signing of the Ramsar Convention.
In the 1960s, people were worried about the loss of wetlands and waterbirds (such as ducks and swans) occurring in Europe. This led to the first international conservation agreement. On 2 February 1971 the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was signed, in Ramsar, Iran.
This is why the agreement became known as the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and Australia is a signatory to the Convention. Australia designated the our first Ramsar site, Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory in 1974. In the South Coast region we have two wetlands listed under the Ramsar Convention – Lake Warden and Lake Gore near Esperance.
Wetlands are valuable for the environment, food production, our culture and recreation. A healthy wetland has a rich natural diversity of plants and animals. Wetlands provide connections in the landscape so that plants and animals can spread from place to place and maintain their populations. Wetland systems also remove sediment and nutrients, acting like kidneys for our water systems. Wetlands provide protection from the effects of extreme weather events such as coastal storm surges and floods. They even store carbon, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Wetlands support Australia’s primary industries. Saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass wetlands are the nurseries for our fish and seafood and some wetlands provide water for irrigation and farm animals. Healthy wetlands are also places of recreation and provide opportunities to enjoy some of Australia’s natural wonders.
For more information on wetlands, go to https://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/about