February 2nd: World Wetlands Day
This year, the Ramsar Convention is promoting a Wetlands Youth Photo Contest to highlight one of the many ways wetlands ensure our future. The contest is asking entrants aged 15-24 to snap and upload a picture taken in a wetlands location between 2 February and 2 March. To participate or simply vote in photos already registered, go to: http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/
Wetlands are extremely important for the environment, as they have a series of functions and services. For example:
- They form part of the food chain and nutrient cycles.
- They are home to a variety of species, many of which ensure a supply of food for human populations and are therefore important for man´s survival. Over 90% of marine fish species for example depend at some point in their life cycle on the existence of wetlands adjacent to coastal areas.
- They act as major regulators of the water cycle, and play a key role in recharging and discharging underground water sources, protecting coastal areas, controlling flooding, etc.
- They guarantee the quality and volume of water and can also be used for treating wastewater.
- Wetlands are also of substantial value to people in terms of their contribution to leisure and tourism activities, as well as to social, economic and cultural life (great civilizations have always emerged close to wetlands).
In the Amazon region, one example of an incredible wetland is Llanos de Moxos, located in Bolivia and near the borders of Peru and Brazil. It is a 6.9 million hectares wetland; an area equivalent to the size of the Netherlands and Belgium. Endowed with a rich natural diversity, it is home to 131 species of mammals and 568 different birds species. There are also 102 species of reptiles, 62 amphibian species, 625 species of fish and over a 1,000 species of plants. In 2013, Llanos de Moxos was nominated a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention.
Other examples of wetlands in the Amazon region are Cabo Orange National Park and Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil, and Abanico del Pastaza, located in Peru.