Why do wetlands matter?
Wetlands, particularly swamps and marshes, are one of the most ecologically productive ecosystems globally, meaning they generate organic matter the fastest. Due to the wide range of temperatures, salinity, and vegetation they can possess, wetlands allow for many different species, from the two-centimeter-tall salt marsh harvest mouse to six-foot-long bat rays. Thousands of flora and fauna species across the globe depend on wetlands for food, water, shelter, breeding, and migration. Not just a variety of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, insects, fish, and amphibians, but fungi, bacteria, archaea, and protists as well. In addition to providing ideal habitat, wetlands help humans out by naturally improving water quality and controlling floods and erosion. Plus, they are a source of natural products, such as seafood, timber, recreation, and beauty.
This year’s theme is Wetlands Action for People and Nature, which aims to emphasize the importance of actions to ensure wetlands conservation and sustainable use. As the global population, projected to reach 10 billion by 2050, grows dramatically, so will our need for water, which has already grown scarce. However, the increased awareness and action for wetlands protection brought by World Wetlands Day can allow us to support sustainable water management and increased availability of water for all.
“World Wetlands Day 2022.” ICRI, International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), 16 Dec. 2021, https://www.icriforum.org/events/world-wetlands-day-2022/#:~:text=The%20theme%20for%20the%202022,are%20conserved%20and%20sustainably%20used.“World Wetlands Day 2022.” UNEP, UN Environment Program, https://www.unep.org/events/un-day/world-wetlands-day-2022.