2 February is World Wetlands Day2015-02-02
Today, on 2 February, we celebrate World Wetlands Day. It has been the 44th year already that this Day has been annually marked by 168 states, which had acceded to the international Ramsar Convention, including Lithuania.
Under the Ramsar Convention, which was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar on 2 February 1971, protection is provided not only for marshes which are important for the survival of our planet but also for other sites saturated with water. All of them are called wetlands. They include low bogs, high bogs, reeds, artificial and natural bodies of water, areas, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing. They also include areas of marine waters, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.
Currently, the lists of the Ramsar Convention contain over 2,100 wetlands worldwide. The aggregate area of these territories is approx. 208,449,277 ha. This territory is thirty times the size of Lithuania.
In Lithuania, the status of protected wetlands of international significance has been granted to seven sites, namely, the Čepkeliai, Kamanos, Viešvilė and Žuvintas natural reserves, Nemuno Delta Regional Park, Girutiškis wetland in Labanoras Regional Park, and the Adutiškis-Svyla-Birvėta wetland complex. The total area of the territories that are protected under the Convention accounts for approx. 1% of the country’s territory.
Each year the country’s directorates of protected areas celebrate World Wetlands Day by organising various events. This year the topic of the events is “Wetlands for Our Feature”. Thus, attempts are made to draw public attention to the threats to wetlands.
According to Vidmantas Bezaras, Director of the Protected Areas and Landscape Department of the Ministry of Environment, marshes and other wetlands are still very often seen as land of no value – they are drained, excavated and sacrificed for urban infrastructure. Since 1900 more than 64% of the world’s wetlands were destroyed. During the past 40 years, the populations of freshwater species decreased substantially; we lost over 70% of the populations of these species.
From 1,500 marshes larger than 50 ha that existed in Lithuania in the 20th century, there are only 800 marshes left. Those are the consequences of drainage works and melioration. Many wetlands were destroyed, marshes became dryer, and the peat mineralisation processes, which release huge quantities of gas changing the climate into the atmosphere, have started. “We should take a much better care of wetlands in Lithuania as well. They are the cradle of our biological diversity and the source of landscape vitality and clean water”, said Vidmantas Bezaras.
Public Information Division
2 February 2015