World Wetlands Day 2021: Wetlands as a source of freshwater

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 Chamiza. Photo: Gabriela ContrerasChamiza. Photo: Gabriela Contreras
 
 
By Caterinna del Río Giovannini
 
Every February 2, World Wetlands Day is celebrated as a reminder of the important role that these flooded terrestrial ecosystems have for life on Earth. This day also commemorates the date on which the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was adopted in Iran in 1971.

Each year a theme is chosen as the main focus of the campaign. For 2021, the focus is on the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of the Earth's freshwater and their inseparable link to the existence of life. To this end, governments and NGOs around the world are organizing contests, wetland clean-up days and other activities to raise awareness.

For example, this year in Boston, self-guided walks have been organized to discover the hidden wetlands of this U.S. city; in Mexico, there will be an annual cleanup of the Laguna La Cruz wetlands; in Canada, online contests will be held; in Spain, drawings and photographs of the Vega de Astrabudua wetland will be received; and in the Philippines, a forum on wetlands and mangroves and a cleanup of the coastline were organized for the same day, to name just a few.

And very close to our offices in Puerto Varas, in the Los Lagos region of Chile, Fundación Legado Chile, an NGO that "creates, manages and articulates" conservation projects, has decided to use this day to launch its "Conservation Plan for the Urban Wetlands" of the city of Llanquihue. This activity will take place online via Facebook Live and Zoom at 12:00 noon.

Tomás Gárate, one of the founders of Legado Chile, explains that after Chile's Magallanes region the Los Lagos region has the second most wetlands in Chile. "However, we have great challenges and gaps to take care of this great biodiversity. The ecosystem services they offer, such as rainwater infiltration, storage, purification and decontamination of pollutants in the water, are threatened by the growth of our cities and changes in land use in rural areas."

Thanks to this initiative, this would be the first time that international standards are implemented for the diagnosis, planning and execution of conservation and ecological restoration strategies for urban wetlands in Chile.

Chile's environment ministry has also organized more than 40 activities that have been taking place since January 26 and will end on February 5, including literary awards, guided field visits to nature sanctuaries, wetland clean-up days, cultural days, and photography contests, among others.