World Wetlands Day 2019

World Wetlands Day 2019

By Ruth Wakefield, Senior Engineer

This Saturday is World Wetlands Day, which is celebrated every year on 2 February to mark the adoption of the Ramsar Convention in 1971.

This year’s theme is “Wetlands and climate change” which aims to provide a spotlight on how wetlands contribute to reducing the effect of climate change, as well as providing multiple other benefits such as providing an amenity, supporting a diverse range of biodiversity, providing a source of drinking water and enabling agricultural operations.

The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as land areas flooded or saturated with water, either seasonally or permanently. It may surprise you that this not only includes inland features, such as aquifers, lakes, rivers, marshes, peatlands, floodplains and swamps, but also coastal features, such as coastlines, mangroves, saltmarshes, estuaries, lagoons, seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

Wetlands: A natural solution to climate change

  • Wetlands buffer coastline from extreme weather

Coastal wetlands, such as salt marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs act like shock absorbers, reducing the intensity of waves, storm surges and tsunamis and shielding 60% of humanity living and working along coastlines from flooding, property damage and loss of life.

  • Wetlands reduce floods and relieve droughts

Inland wetlands, including floodplains, rivers, lakes and swamps, function like sponges, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and therefore reducing flooding and delaying the onset of droughts.

  • Wetlands naturally absorb and store carbon

Peatlands, mangroves and seagrasses are the most effective carbon sinks on Earth, absorbing and storing vast amounts of carbon – when drained, they emit vast amounts of carbon. Peatlands cover 3% of the Earth’s surface but store approximately 30% of all land-based carbon – twice the amount of all the world’s forests combined.

How we aim to protect our wetlands

There are several ways that PBA, now part of Stantec, aims to improve wetland environments:

  • Promoting wetland policies that address climate change
  • Working to restore wetlands that have been degraded or destroyed within our study sites
  • Educating others on how wetlands help mitigate climate change
  • Promoting the appropriate use of remaining wetlands

Our wetlands projects

We have been involved in several projects incorporating new, and enhancing existing, wetlands including river and lake restoration, and natural floodplain management projects across the UK, such as Green Park Station, Christchurch Meadows footbridge, Dunsbury Park, Brockwell Park lakes and Kinness Burn. If you would like to find out more about any of this work, please contact Robert Riddington.

Get involved in World Wetlands Day events

A number of organised events are being held across the country to celebrate World Wetlands Day, at sites including Norfolk marshland, Arundel wetland centre, West Yorkshire, Barnes Common and Caerlaverock Castle. To view the full list of events across the UK visit the World Wetlands Day website.

We would also encourage you to visit and support your local wetland centres throughout the year:

https://wwt.org.uk

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife/habitats/wetlands-and-rivers

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