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Today, 2 February 2013, is World Wetlands Day, the first of the big water celebrations of the year forming part of the 2013 United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation.

The 2013 theme is ‘Wetlands and water management’. The slogan is ‘Wetlands take care of water’, which succinctly positions wetlands as a key component in environmental water management programmes, and explains why taking care of wetlands form an essential component in the delivery of sustainable water management. As stated by Anada Tiega, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, “It is well recognized that access to a clean and adequate water supply is critical for human survival. Less well understood is that wetlands, as defined by Ramsar, are fundamental regulators of water regimes. Without adequate management of wetlands from the mountains to the sea there is no water of the right quality and quantity where and when it is needed.”

A wetland, dominated by wire rush and sphagnum moss, between Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau in the Southern Otago region in New Zealand. The unique wetlands in the Te Anau area were used for the 'Dead Marshes' scene in Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie.(© All Rights Reserved)

A wetland, dominated by wire rush and sphagnum moss, between Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau in the Southern Otago region in New Zealand. The unique wetlands in the Te Anau area were used for the ‘Dead Marshes’ scene in Sir Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie.
(© All Rights Reserved)

The role of wetlands in water management is well explained in the ‘Wetlands Take Care of Water’ information leaflet, available online in PDF format. Given the importance of wetlands in regulating water regimes, one of the worrying facts stated in the booklet is that “Impacts from changes in land use, water diversions, and infrastructure development continue to drive the degradation and loss of wetlands.” It is because of this that there is an urgent need to communicate the importance of wetlands as an essential element of water infrastructure – they are water providers, serving as water filters and purifiers. To continue supplying filtered and purified water, however, they need a continued input of water to maintain the system, and if water is dammed up or diverted for other uses, these critical components in the earth’s water system dry up and disappear. To address this within the wider water crisis facing the world’s growing population, “There is a need to place water at the heart of the green economy and to recognise that working with wetlands as water management infrastructure can be a cost-effective and sustainable way of meeting a diversity of policy, business and private objectives.”

Do you know where your nearest wetland is? And when last did you pay it a visit? Take today to appreciate these wonders of nature. Learn about them, and share your knowledge with those you know. The more people know about and understand the critical role wetlands play, the better the chances that these natural water purifiers may be maintained for future generations.

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