World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on February 2nd to raise awareness about wetlands. Why do we have a World Wetlands Day? We do to establish awareness that nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we’re losing wetlands three times faster than forests.
Freshwater is rare. Wetlands provide most of it.
Only 2.5% of water on earth is freshwater, mostly stored in glaciers and aquifers.
- Less than 1% is usable, 0.3% is found in wetlands such as rivers and lakes.
Wetlands store more carbon than forests.
- Peatlands cover 3% of our planet yet store around 30% of all land-based carbon.
- Coastal wetlands like mangroves sequester and store carbon up to 55 times faster than tropical rain forests.
Wetlands help us cope with storms and flooding.
- 60% of humanity lives and works in coastal areas.
- Saltmarshes, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs shield coastal communities in extreme weather.
- Inland, a single acre of wetland can absorb up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
Wetlands are a source of livelihoods and food.
- More than a billion people live from fishing, aquaculture and tourism
- Wetland paddies provide rice for 3.5 billion people.
Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests.
- They’re the Earth’s most threatened ecosystem.
- More than 80% of all wetlands have disappeared since the 1700s.
- The trend is accelerating. Since 1970, at least 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost.
Human activities are driving wetland degradation.
- Wetlands are being drained and filled in for agriculture and urban construction.
- Water pollution and over‑ shing are harming wetland ecosystems, along with invasive species.
Wetland species are facing extinction.
- One in three freshwater species and 25% of all wetland species face actual extinction from wetland decline.
- 81% of inland wetland species and 36% of coastal and marine species have declined in the last 50 years.
A well restored wetland can provide many of the services performed by the original natural wetland. Here are seven ways restored wetlands can bene t us directly:
- Improve livelihoods
Wetlands create livelihoods in fishing and aquaculture, and also provide goods like reeds and grasses. These opportunities often benefit indigenous populations.
- Revive biodiversity
40% of the world’s species live or breed in wetlands. Restoring wetlands powers the local food chain and attracts wildlife.
- Blunt the impact of floods and storms
Restored wetlands can act as sponges against excess rainfall and flooding, buffer coastal storm surges, and can shield communities in extreme weather.
- Store carbon
Specific types of wetlands, especially peatlands, mangroves, intertidal marshes and seagrass beds are exceptionally efficient carbon sinks.
- Replenish and filter water supply
Wetlands naturally filter water, remove pollutants and boost the local water supply.
- Boost eco-tourism
A restored wetland can be a sustainable magnet for visitors; a natural attraction that draws tourists along with opportunities to serve them.
- Enhance well-being
Revitalized wetlands provide a place to relax, experience nature – and enjoy sense of satisfaction at their resurgence.
Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land & Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .