About the event
World Wetlands Day was adopted by the UN in 2021 marking the anniversary of the first World Wetlands Convention in 1971. It is a day to reinforce the importance of wetlands for the world’s biodiversity, its climate, and human livelihoods.
Wetlands are hugely important ecosystems that cover just 6% of the planet's surface but support 40% of all plant and animal species. They are water dominated ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, peatlands, swamps and estuaries all of which support huge amounts of life and human communities. Wetlands are one of the world’s greatest carbon stores with peatlands alone storing two times more carbon than all of the world’s forests combined.
Unfortunately, 50% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since the 1970’s; this threatens the stability of our climate and the integrity of whole ecosystems. That’s why it's more important than ever to protect and restore wetland habitats. This day is an important educational tool to remind your students of this.
How to approach it
Wetlands are often overlooked as an ecosystem that will help us solve the climate crisis. Often there is significant focus on forests and their ability to draw in lots of carbon from our atmosphere. However, wetlands are even more effective at this than forests, they have high levels of biodiversity and they help to regulate flooding.
Wetlands are disappearing at a high rate for multiple reasons. One important one however is that often they are seen as ‘unproductive’ swamps that should be drained and turned into arable land. Today is about reversing this perception by introducing your students to the huge value that wetlands can provide to our ecosystems and to us.
The Harmony Project’s wonderful ‘Local Rivers’ teaching pack shows that through inexpensive local trips we can introduce students to the wonders of wetlands systems. Alternatively you could show nature documentary films about lakes, rivers, and wetlands to show your students the diversity of life they support.
Did you know that 40% of the world's plants and animals depend on wetlands? From marshes to mangrove forests, these places store masses of carbon, protect against flooding and are some of the most biodiverse places in the world.