World Wetlands Day is coming up soon, on Friday 2 February. The Convention on Wetlands, sometimes called the Ramsar Convention, was adopted on that day in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. All sorts of organisations, particularly green ones, have taken advantage of having a World Wetlands Day to raise public awareness of the value of wetlands and the importance that should be attached to their protection from development. One possible threat to wetlands in the region is the Severn Barrage of course.
Our wetlands include: the ponds in our gardens and parks as well as naturally formed ones; rivers like the Avon, Severn and Frome; reedbeds; and bogs. A very large variety of plants and animals live in these habitats which are prized by nature lovers and seekers of leisure and recreation. They are very important for our bodiversity as well as fulfilling a key role in storing flood water. Vitally now that climate change is bringing more weather extremes, wetlands reduce flooding in built-up areas.
Climate change is now a reality. Rising sea levels, warmer, drier summers, stormier winds and wetter winters are features we are seeing. Wetlands soak up water like sponges, allowing it to drain away into the ground in a controlled way in times of flood risk. As a result less reaches our towns and cities, where it can be very damaging. Wetlands are a buffer between the sea and inland development - absorbing the storm energy and acting as a storage area for high tides.
Wetlands protect areas where people live. A lot of work has been and is being done to restore drained and damaged wetlands. New ones are being established across the UK including restoring traditional ‘washlands’, putting the bends back in straightened-out rivers, and creating large areas of reedbed, which act to clean polluted water. 400 hectares were produced by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust alone in 2004/5.
Greens feel that valuing wetlands is the right thing to do for future generations and appeal to people to continue to support their rivers, ponds reedbeds and bogs. They are often of high aesthetic value because of their form, appearance and beauty. They are highly valuable ecosytems, benefitting both human and non-human life. They are often used for education and training so their value to learning is high. Wetlands are a good source of relief from toil as providers of spare time interest. Wetlands are very good for the economy because of the protection from damage they offer, and the leisure and tourism money they can bring in.