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🇬🇧 World Wetlands Day by Cristina Flores Castro.

World Wetlands Day, 2 February, is the day that the world comes together to recognise and celebrate the importance of wetlands for the continued survival of people and nature alike. It marks the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the only multilateral environmental agreement to date that focuses solely on the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Photo by Rosalia Gorocica.

This year the topic is Wetlands and Water. To share and raise awareness in the relationship between wetlands and water.

We are in a growing water crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more water than nature can replenish, and are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most Wetlands.

Fresh and saltwater wetlands sustain humanity and nature. They support our social and economic development through multiple services:

Store and clean water:

• Wetlands hold sprocket most of our fresh water.

• They naturally filter pollutants, leaving water we can safely drink.

Keep us fed:

• Aquaculture is the fastest growing

food production sector, while inland fisheries alone provided 12 million tonnes of fish in 2018.

•Rice paddies feed 3.5 billion people annually.

Photo by Cristina Flores Castro.

Underpin our global economy:

•Wetlands, the most valuable ecosystem, provide services worth US $47 trillion a year.

• More than one billion people rely on wetlands for income.

Provide nature a home:

• 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. Annually, about 200 new fish species are discovered in freshwater wetlands.

• Coral reefs are home to 25% of all spices.

Photo by Cristina Flores Castro

Keep us safe:

•Wetlands provide protection from storms, with each acre of wetland absorbing up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.

•Wetlands help regulate the climate: peatlands store twice as much carbon as forests, with saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass beds also holding vast amounts of carbon.

We have a finite amount of water and our current use is unsustainable.

3 Freshwater Facts:

•Only 2.5% of water on Earth is freshwater, mostly stored in glaciers, ice caps and underground aquifers

• Less than 1% of fresh water is usable.

• Rivers and lakes hold 0.3% of surface water.

Freshwater Consumption:

We use 10 billions tons of water every day:

• 70% used for food cultivation.

• 22% consumed by industry and energy.

• Water use increased sixfold in 100 years and rises by 1% annually.

Water crisis.

Population growth, urbanization and consumption patterns have put unbearable pressure on wetlands and the water in them:

•Almost all global fresh water sources are compromised with 82% of the world’s population exposed to high levels of pollution in their water supply.

•2.2 billion people don’t have safe drinking water with an annual economic cost amounting to $260 billion.

•Water equivalent to the annual flow of the Volga River, Europe’s longest river, is squandered in 1.3 billion tons of food wasted from farm to fork each year.

•Water insecurity was a key factor in conflict in at least 45 countries in 2017.

•14% more water is needed to produce 70% more food by 2050 for 10 billion people.

Wetland loss impact.

Our water consumption means less water for nature. Wetland loss and pollution has intensified a water crisis threatening all life:

• Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1700’s, those remaining are disappearing three times faster than forests.

• 25% of all wetland species and 1 in 3 freshwater species face extinction.

•Climate change is reducing surface and ground watering already dry regions, resulting in increasing competition for water.

Photo by Cristina Flores Castro

Five solutions:

We could have enough water for nature and us if we:

• Stop destroying, start restoring wetlands.

• Don’t dam rivers or over extract from aquifers.

• Address pollution, clean up freshwater sources.

• Increase water efficiency, use wetlands wisely.

• Integrate water and wetlands into development plans and resource management.

Text by Cristina Flores Castro.

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