World Wetlands Day is observed every year on February 2 to mark the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty aimed at promoting the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands worldwide.
The slogan for World Wetlands Day 2024 was ' Wetlands and Human Being' which highlights the important role wetlands play in sustaining flora and fauna. Wetlands are essential for a multitude of ecological, social, and economic benefits. They serve as a habitat for diverse wildlife including endangered species and play a crucial role in flood control, groundwater recharge, water purification and climate regulation.
The main purpose of the Day is to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands for people. Wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, providing habitat for various species, regulating water flow, improving water quality, and supporting local communities.
The Day serves as an opportunity to focus on the value of wetlands and the need for their intact ecological condition and sustainable management to make our life healthy. It goes without saying that wetlands form the lifeline for both plants and animals.
Wetlands cover only six per cent of the earth but more than 40 per cent of animals and plant species live and breed in them. Wetlands are responsible for flood control, water purification, and water regulation, but sadly they are disappearing at an alarming rate.
These vital ecologies are disappearing three times faster than forests. Pollution, discharge of drainage into water resources, fishing, and over-exploitation of natural resources are the activities that have endangered wetlands worldwide. Anthropogenic activities like unplanned urbanisation, pollution, and encroachment of riverbanks and areas covered by lakes and ponds have disturbed the fragile ecosystem of the wetlands in Nepal.
Wetlands in Kathmandu Valley are being polluted at an alarming rate because of human activities like mixing drainage into water bodies and human encroachment. It’s a sad fact that rivers in the capital valley are so polluted that they are unable to support aquatic life.
Ten wetlands of Nepal are listed as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) with a surface area of 60.561 hectares. Nepal boasts of approximately 242 wetlands covering an area of around 743,500 hectares which is about five per cent of the total land covered by the country.
There is a huge diversity in the wetlands of Nepal, ranging from glacial lakes to freshwater rivers and lakes in the lowlands of Tarai. Owing to this, the huge diversity of plants, birds and animal species are found in Nepal which makes Nepal an attractive spot for ecotourism, recreation, bird watching and research activities for visitors from around the world.
Thus, the conservation of wetlands is critical as they provide a habitat for thousands of species of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. Nepal's economy is hugely dependent on tourism and tourists primarily visit Nepal to behold its natural beauty and diversity.
The glaciers originating from the pristine snow-covered mountain are the primary water source for the country and its neighbours. So to balance the ecosystem, we must conserve our wetlands like rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes. Wetlands make up the sources of water supply, irrigation and biodiversity. The government and general public need to be educated and made proactive in the conservation of wetlands.