By Daniel Collins
This Saturday, February 2, is World Wetlands Day. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, which was established to highlight the many values of wetlands and foster their conservation and sustainable use.
Wetlands are parts of a landscape where the soil is saturated either permanently or seasonally, and which vary in size and shape from small mountain tarns to South America’s Pantanal (140,000 km, straddling three countries). Landcare Research has a good resource describing the wetland types found in New Zealand. Wetlands are among the world’s most productive environments, and in addition to high biodiversity also offer many ecosystem services for us. These services can include pollution control, river and climate regulation, food provision, recreation, and more. Yet of all ecosystem types worldwide, they have been degraded the most. Less than 10% of NZ’s original wetlands remain intact.
And so in recognition of World Wetlands Day, Waiology is running a series of articles on wetlands from contributors across New Zealand. We have articles on research, historical accounts, regional and central government programmes, and restoration efforts. So stay tuned, add your knowledge and questions in the comments, and take part in World Wetlands Day here at Waiology.
If you’re interested in activities on the day, see the Department of Conservation website for more information, or announce activities here.
Dr Daniel Collins is a hydrologist and water resources scientist at NIWA.