Thursday, 2 February 2012

Celebrating World Wetlands Day!

Each year the 2nd February is designated as World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, which occurred in the small Iranian city of Ramsar. By the way the city's other claim to fame (according to Wikipedia!) is for having the highest levels of natural background radiation on Earth.

Wetlands provide essential ecosystem functions and services, including regulation of water quality, sustainable control and mitigation of flooding, greenhouse gas reduction, essential habitats for plants and animals, and cultural and recreational facilities. In recent years many organisations have run events on World Wetlands Day to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

The focus for this year’s World Wetlands Day is "wetlands and tourism", an issue of great importance in the UK where many of our wetland conservation areas, including the Norfolk Broads, the Somerset Levels and Moors, and the Great Fen, are visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year.
CEH scientists are working in the Somerset
Levels and Moors
CEH scientists have ongoing projects in several UK wetland areas including the Somerset Levels and the Great Fen Project, where we use our specialist skills in hydro-ecological modelling, field-data collection and monitoring to provide advice to organisations attempting large-scale wetland restoration.

For World Wetlands Day this year CEH has created a new web-based tool to help wetland managers in England and Wales project the impacts of climate change in the next 50 years. The project, led by Professor Mike Acreman, brings together the best available science, presenting results in an easy to use form showing how future climate could impact on different types of wetlands. Professor Acreman hopes that, in future, the methods developed can be extended to assessing impacts in other countries.

A number of wetlands sites up and down the UK are hosting special events this weekend to mark World Wetlands Day, so it's a great opportunity to get out and visit one! It's also a good time of year to witness one of nature's most magnificent sights, a murmuration of starlings - when they sweep through the sky in their thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, before flying down and roosting in the trees. Wetlands reserves are renowned places to see them.

Why not take your camera when you are out and about at a wetlands site this weekend, and add your photos to our Wetlands in the UK Flickr group.

Posted by Barnaby and Paulette

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