World Wetlands Day is celebrated every February 2nd. It marks the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, established in 1971. Its purpose is to encourage global policy objectives around preserving wetlands and to raise awareness about the value wetlands contribute to our lives.
You may know wetlands by the names swamps, bogs, fens or marshes. They are an important interface between land and water. They contribute to our quality of life and survival by playing a number of important roles in the environment. Wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and act as giant sponges by soaking up water and releasing it slowly over time to limit flooding. Wetlands act as the world’s water filter by trapping pollutants, such as phosphorus and heavy metals in their soils. They transform dissolved nitrogen into nitrogen gas and break down suspended solids to neutralize harmful bacteria. With the many plant and animal species that call them home, wetlands are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth.
Unfortunately 68 per cent of wetlands in southern Ontario have been altered or destroyed. Many remaining wetlands are negatively impacted by development and agriculture. This shocking trend forces us to ask – what will happen if we lose our wetlands?
Many wetland-specific species will die out. Ecosystems that indirectly rely on wetlands will be significantly altered and can potentially collapse, which can have far reaching impacts to our food supply, water quality and more. Wetlands are too important. We simply cannot survive without them.
There are many ways we can help protect and restore wetlands in our community. Credit Valley Conservation works with its many partners to restore wetlands in the Credit River watershed on public and private land.
Landowners with wetlands on their property can find out what they can do to protect wetlands on their land.
Learn more about the state of wetlands in the Credit River watershed.
Visit Rattray Marsh Conservation Area to see a provincially significant wetland up close.