World must not forget small wetlands

Posted on 02 February 2021

World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to focus on all wetlands - no matter the size
The theme of World Wetland Day 2021 is "Wetlands and Water", calling on the world to focus on wetlands and protect water resources.

According to professor LEI Guangchun, the former director of the WWF China's freshwater and ocean project in 1999 and the current chairman of the Science and Technology Committee of the Ramsar Convention, 87% of the world's surface water is stored in lakes and wetlands, 11% is in marshes, and the remaining 2% is in the river. It can be seen that without wetlands, there will be no fresh water on which we live.

The Wetland Convention estimates that as of 2018, the global wetland area is about 1.21 billion hectares, of which lakes account for 29%, marshes account for 32%, peat wetlands account for 33%, and rivers account for 6%.

In this case, one most important thing is to wise use and protect as many wetland resources as possible. In China, professor LEI Guangchun proposed the concept of small and micro wetlands, calling people to pay attention to small but important areas of wetlands, especially in cities. Small and micro wetlands refer to micro wetlands formed in the long-term evolution of nature, small lakes, reservoirs, ponds, constructed wetlands with an area of ​​less than 8 hectares, and small lakes with a width of less than 10 meters and a length of less than 5 kilometers. For instance ponds, creeks, small rivers, bends, ditches, etc.

Through the implementation of small and micro wetland protection and construction, the restoration of the ecological environment of small and micro wetlands and the improvement of the quality of ecological landscape functions, strengthen the water conservation and purification capabilities can reduce agricultural non-point source pollution, purify water quality, and improve wetlands and water ecological environment landscape and biodiversity, which continue to improve the living environment.

On October 28, 2018, at the 13th Conference of the Parties, the "Resolution on Protection and Management of Small and Micro Wetlands" which drafted by China was successfully passed. The unique ecological functions of small and micro wetlands have received wider attention and recognition from the international community.

In 2019, WWF promoted Wuhan, China to successfully bid for The 14th COP Meeting of Convention on Wetlands. Wuhan is a "city of hundreds of lakes" and was assessed by National Geographic as the world's top three inland megacities in wetland resources. This city is not only rich in wetland resources such as large rivers and lakes, but also does a lot of work on the protection of small and micro wetlands.

Wuhan organized and compiled the "Guidelines for Protection and Restoration of Small and Micro Wetlands in Wuhan City."

PROTECTION refers to the maintenance of the target ecosystem of small and micro wetlands on the basis of complying with the ecological, economic and social values ​​to achieve sustainable development. RESTORATION refers to the restoration of degraded or disappeared natural small wetlands through appropriate ecological technology or engineering measures, or the transformation of existing artificial small and micro wetlands, to improve its ecological quality, optimize its ecosystem structure and make it play the target ecology Features.

The guide divide the protection and restoration of small and micro wetlands in Wuhan into four categories based on the ecosystem functions : water quality purification, biodiversity maintenance, landscape recreation, and runoff regulation. The guide formulate classification and implementation guidelines, operation management, identification and evaluation procedures, in accordance with the principles of natural ecology, adapting measures to local conditions, avoiding changes to original ecological attributes and invasive alien species, to complete the protection and restoration of small and micro wetlands in various aspects such as water bodies, slope protection, organisms, habitats, and substrates.

Wuhan started early in promoting the protection and restoration of small and micro wetlands. Before the compilation of the "Guide", the concept of small and micro wetland has been introduced in many parks in Wuhan, such as the multi-level water purification system of Jiefang Park,the multi-pond system of Canglong Island Wetland Park,And one of the three demonstration sites of Wuhan in 2021,Dugong Lake Wetland Park.

Dugong Lake is located in the Dongxi Lake District of Wuhan City. It is identified as a small and micro wetland as rural water quality purification. It is divided into one channel and two ponds. The two ponds are respectively as the first-level evolution and the second-level evolution. Connected, after surface runoff flows into the pond, it is infiltrated by the gravel and pebbles on the slope of the lake, and various aquatic plants in the pond absorb nutrients, then the water is purified before being discharged into the lake.

Small and micro wetlands within a wetland complex provide critical habitat for migratory water birds, and often are breeding grounds of waterbirds, and major feeding sites for wintering water birds.

Small and micro wetlands also provide many other multiple ecosystem services,provide excellent human residential environment of natural beauty,provide food,such as vegetables and fish, mitigate floods and purify water, regulate micro climates, as well as providing defense or isolation.
Small and micro wetlands in Wuhan, China
© WWF-China
East Lake National Park in Wuhan, China
Small wetlands are critical for people, cities and nature
© WWF-China