What is World Wetlands Day?
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands. This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971.
A United Nations International Day
On 30 August 2021 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/317 that established 2 February as World Wetlands Day.
Why World Wetlands Day?
Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Yet, wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more.
It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.
World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems.
What is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2023?
Wetland Restoration, the theme for 2023, highlights the urgent need to prioritise wetland restoration.
Who is behind World Wetlands Day?
The World Wetlands Day awareness campaign is organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands. Contracting Parties of the Convention on Wetlands have been celebrating World Wetlands Day since 1997, when it was first established.
Who can join?
World Wetlands Day is open to everyone — from international organisations, governments, wetland practitioners, to children, youth, media, community groups, decision-makers, to all individuals — as these ecosystems are important for us all.
Wetlands and the Western Port Biosphere.
Many people don’t realise that most of Western Port is listed as an internationally significant wetland under the intergovernmental Ramsar convention – a treaty aimed at the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
Our bay is considered internationally important because of the high representation of marine species and birds that rely on the wetland and the significant expanses of important wetland habitat, including intertidal sand and mud flats and areas of saltmarsh and mangroves.
Seagrass meadows, mudflats, mangroves and saltmarshes start the food chains that sustain the fishery and provide for international migratory shorebirds. These birds rely on the wetland for food prior to their epic migrations to the Arctic Circle.
Local fish like the King George whiting grow to a catchable size in the seagrass meadows of Western Port. Whiting from our bay then migrate along the Victorian coast to spawning sites far along the coast to the west.
Other fish such as the Australian grayling migrate downstream to spawn in the lower freshwater reaches of rivers flowing into the bay. Larvae then drift to the bay before migrating upstream to fresh water as juveniles.
The wetland is also a key breeding area for a range of species including Elephant fish, which are thought to deposit their eggs in the soft sediment between San Remo and French Island.
The Western Port Ramsar Wetlands are one of the primary reasons why the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared the Western Port area as one of only five active biospheres in Australia.
To learn more about the ways in which we can continue to restore and protect the Wetlands of Western Port:
Protecting the Ramsar Values of Western Port – Western Port Biosphere