Water, wetlands and life, highlights this year’s celebration of World Wetlands Day.

Each year, communities around the world mark the 2nd of February as World Wetlands Day to heighten awareness on the importance of wetlands. This global celebration also commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar City, Iran on February 2, 1971. In the Philippines, it is observed annually by virtue of Proclamation No. 74 dated February 2, 1999.

This year, the campaign underscores the importance of wetlands as source of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management and protection of this important ecosystem.

In celebrating World Wetlands Day, the DENR emphasizes that water is finite and the current use by communities of this resource is unsustainable. The office shares that only 2.5% of water on earth is freshwater, mostly stored in glaciers, ice caps, and underground aquifers. Of this, less than 1% is usable, 0.3% is in rivers and lakes. The Department stressed that this is all the freshwater we have and wetlands provide most of them.

“Our wetlands are threatened, and these are largely caused by human activities”, says DENR Regional Executive Tirso P. Parian, Jr. “Aside from population growth, urbanization, and consumption patterns, pollution due to improper waste disposal continues to be the biggest threat to our wetlands,” he adds.

Director Parian said, “using wetlands wisely and addressing wetland loss and degradation is an urgent task”. “We need to stop destroying wetlands, address pollution by practicing proper solid waste management, clean-up freshwater resources, avoid over extracting from aquifers, and increase water efficiency,” he stressed.

Commemorating World Wetlands Day is a global reminder to undertake actions aimed at restoring and protecting the wetlands. To highlight the celebration, DENR VIII lined-up activities including distribution of information, education, and communication (IEC) materials on the importance of maintaining healthy wetlands, presentation of wetlands facts and videos, and site visit to Southern Leyte Bird Sanctuary, a wetland in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.

Wetlands refer to a wide variety of inland habitats such as marshes, peatlands, floodplains, rivers and lakes, and coastal areas such as saltmarshes, mangroves, intertidal mudflats and seagrass beds, and also coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than six (6) meters at low tide, as well as human-made wetlands such as dams, reservoirs, rice paddies and wastewater treatment ponds and lagoons (bmb.gov.ph).