Today, One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Wetlands Day 2023. The theme for this year is “It’s time for Wetland Restoration”. Wetlands are some of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They protect and improve water quality, provide a home for wildlife and aquatic life, and limit the effect of natural disasters and climate change events among many other ecosystem services. They are important to One Health and sustainability!
Critically, wetlands perform the following specific functions;
- Wetlands can play a role in reducing the frequency and intensity of floods by acting as natural buffers, soaking up and storing a significant amount of floodwater.
- Wetlands provide critical habitats, breeding grounds, and sources of food for shellfish, fish, birds, amphibians, and other organisms.
- Wetlands are also preserved to provide feeding and resting grounds for migratory birds and to create habitat corridors for wildlife populations. These services generate state and tribal commercial, recreational, and aesthetic benefits as well.
- Wetlands also control erosion, limit flooding, moderate groundwater levels, and base flow, assimilate nutrients, protect drinking water sources, and buffer coastal areas from storm surges.
With these functions, it is evident that wetlands can maintain critical wildlife habitat, and contribute to the economic well-being of communities. Sadly, wetlands are vanishing more quickly than forests. According to the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, approximately 35% of wetlands have disappeared due to land use change primarily caused by anthropogenic activities like deforestation, pollution, population growth, urbanization, particularly in coastal zones and river deltas, and changing consumption patterns.
To mitigate this, many countries and communities across the globe are now investing in programs that can help implement local restoration of wetlands, and they are enjoying the benefits of such restoration and protection
Want to know more about Wetlands and how you can contribute to its restoration, read this informative article by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.