World Wetlands Day celebrates these ‘guardians of our planet’

February 2, 2024

By: Lina Azeez

February 2 is World Wetlands Day, an opportune moment to reflect on the significance of these often overlooked ecosystems. 

Societally, wetlands get a bad rap. Boggy, mosquito-ridden, sometimes full of bog bodies (Google it) or wayward cattle that meet a sad fate. Wetlands could do with some better PR. 

Enter World Wetlands Day! Originating from the adoption of the Ramsar Convention in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, World Wetlands Day serves as a global reminder of the importance of wetlands for both human and environmental wellbeing. Now that’s something to celebrate and appreciate! 

Lina Azeez

Wetlands, often referred to as the “kidneys of the Earth,” play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance and provide myriad ecosystem services, especially water filtration. They are an ecosystem marvel. From water purification to supporting biodiversity, these areas are crucial for the health of our planet. One of the most remarkable services they offer is in managing flood waters.

Wetlands act as natural sponges, absorbing excess rainwater and preventing downstream flooding. By slowing down the flow of water, wetlands allow sediments and pollutants to settle, leading to cleaner water downstream. This nature-based flood control is not only efficient but also cost-effective when compared to traditional engineering solutions.

They also serve as invaluable habitats for a diverse range of unique flora and fauna. For instance, in the lower Fraser, did you know that bogs – a type of wetland – are home to a carnivorous plant called the Sundew? They are so pretty and excellent at enticing unsuspecting insects. 

Wetlands support numerous fish species, too. They provide shelter and act as nurseries for juvenile salmon, especially during the spring freshet when the rivers are filled to the brim.

In many urban areas, wetlands have been drained or replaced by concrete structures, leading to increased vulnerability to floods. In the Fraser River valley alone, it’s been calculated that we’ve lost over 85 per cent of our natural wetlands and floodplains to the paving of paradise. 

Embracing wetlands as a nature-based solution for flood management is not just an environmental choice but also a practical one. By preserving and restoring wetlands, we can enhance our resilience to extreme weather events, protecting communities and critical infrastructure like hospitals and hydro lines.

One other rather important role a wetland plays is its ability to store significant amounts of carbon, helping mitigate climate change. Bogs, for example, have vast peat reserves that store huge amounts of carbon dioxide, preventing its release into the atmosphere. By preserving and restoring these valuable but often overlooked ecosystems, we can actively combat climate change and protect diverse, connected habitats.

As we celebrate World Wetlands Day, it is crucial we acknowledge the many challenges wetlands face and redouble our actions to conserve what’s left and restore what we can. Wetland conservation must be incorporated into land-use planning. We must adopt and implement responsible water management strategies and better understand the larger role they can play in protecting our communities during floods.

On World Wetlands Day – and every day – let’s appreciate the beauty and vitality of these ecosystems that silently contribute to the wellbeing of our planet. From flood management to biodiversity conservation, wetlands are nature’s gift that keeps on giving, if we let  them. Let’s celebrate and protect these guardians of our planet.

Notable Wetlands of B.C.

Burns Bog

Situated in Delta, Burns Bog is one of the largest raised peat bogs in North America. This unique ecosystem is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Western painted turtle. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this ecologically significant area.

Harrison River Estuary

Harrison River

The Harrison River, flowing into Harrison Bay, forms an estuary that supports a variety of wetland habitats. This area is particularly important for salmon spawning and plays a crucial role in the life cycles of several fish species.

Kermode (Spirit) Bear in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest

Great Bear Rainforest

This vast and pristine rainforest on the central coast of British Columbia is characterized by a network of temperate rainforest ecosystems, including wetlands. These wetlands support a wide variety of plant and animal species, contributing to the region’s exceptional biodiversity.

Flathead River Valley

Straddling the border between British Columbia and Montana, the Flathead River Valley is known for its pristine wilderness. Wetlands in this area contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem and provide important habitat for diverse wildlife.

Fraser River Delta

This is one of the largest estuarine ecosystems in North America. It comprises marshes, mudflats, and sloughs, providing critical habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Okanagan Valley Wetlands

The Okanagan Valley is known for its semi-arid climate, but it is also home to various wetlands. These wetlands are crucial for waterfowl and other bird species, especially during migration. They play a significant role in maintaining regional biodiversity.

 Fraser River estuary

Share This Story!

World Wetlands Day celebrates these ‘guardians of our planet’

February 2, 2024

By: Lina Azeez

February 2 is World Wetlands Day, an opportune moment to reflect on the significance of these often overlooked ecosystems. 

Societally, wetlands get a bad rap. Boggy, mosquito-ridden, sometimes full of bog bodies (Google it) or wayward cattle that meet a sad fate. Wetlands could do with some better PR. 

Enter World Wetlands Day! Originating from the adoption of the Ramsar Convention in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, World Wetlands Day serves as a global reminder of the importance of wetlands for both human and environmental wellbeing. Now that’s something to celebrate and appreciate! 

Lina Azeez

Wetlands, often referred to as the “kidneys of the Earth,” play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance and provide myriad ecosystem services, especially water filtration. They are an ecosystem marvel. From water purification to supporting biodiversity, these areas are crucial for the health of our planet. One of the most remarkable services they offer is in managing flood waters.

Wetlands act as natural sponges, absorbing excess rainwater and preventing downstream flooding. By slowing down the flow of water, wetlands allow sediments and pollutants to settle, leading to cleaner water downstream. This nature-based flood control is not only efficient but also cost-effective when compared to traditional engineering solutions.

They also serve as invaluable habitats for a diverse range of unique flora and fauna. For instance, in the lower Fraser, did you know that bogs – a type of wetland – are home to a carnivorous plant called the Sundew? They are so pretty and excellent at enticing unsuspecting insects. 

Wetlands support numerous fish species, too. They provide shelter and act as nurseries for juvenile salmon, especially during the spring freshet when the rivers are filled to the brim.

In many urban areas, wetlands have been drained or replaced by concrete structures, leading to increased vulnerability to floods. In the Fraser River valley alone, it’s been calculated that we’ve lost over 85 per cent of our natural wetlands and floodplains to the paving of paradise. 

Embracing wetlands as a nature-based solution for flood management is not just an environmental choice but also a practical one. By preserving and restoring wetlands, we can enhance our resilience to extreme weather events, protecting communities and critical infrastructure like hospitals and hydro lines.

One other rather important role a wetland plays is its ability to store significant amounts of carbon, helping mitigate climate change. Bogs, for example, have vast peat reserves that store huge amounts of carbon dioxide, preventing its release into the atmosphere. By preserving and restoring these valuable but often overlooked ecosystems, we can actively combat climate change and protect diverse, connected habitats.

As we celebrate World Wetlands Day, it is crucial we acknowledge the many challenges wetlands face and redouble our actions to conserve what’s left and restore what we can. Wetland conservation must be incorporated into land-use planning. We must adopt and implement responsible water management strategies and better understand the larger role they can play in protecting our communities during floods.

On World Wetlands Day – and every day – let’s appreciate the beauty and vitality of these ecosystems that silently contribute to the wellbeing of our planet. From flood management to biodiversity conservation, wetlands are nature’s gift that keeps on giving, if we let  them. Let’s celebrate and protect these guardians of our planet.

Notable Wetlands of B.C.

Burns Bog

Situated in Delta, Burns Bog is one of the largest raised peat bogs in North America. This unique ecosystem is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Western painted turtle. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this ecologically significant area.

Harrison River Estuary

Harrison River

The Harrison River, flowing into Harrison Bay, forms an estuary that supports a variety of wetland habitats. This area is particularly important for salmon spawning and plays a crucial role in the life cycles of several fish species.

Kermode (Spirit) Bear in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest

Great Bear Rainforest

This vast and pristine rainforest on the central coast of British Columbia is characterized by a network of temperate rainforest ecosystems, including wetlands. These wetlands support a wide variety of plant and animal species, contributing to the region’s exceptional biodiversity.

Flathead River Valley

Straddling the border between British Columbia and Montana, the Flathead River Valley is known for its pristine wilderness. Wetlands in this area contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem and provide important habitat for diverse wildlife.

Fraser River Delta

This is one of the largest estuarine ecosystems in North America. It comprises marshes, mudflats, and sloughs, providing critical habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Okanagan Valley Wetlands

The Okanagan Valley is known for its semi-arid climate, but it is also home to various wetlands. These wetlands are crucial for waterfowl and other bird species, especially during migration. They play a significant role in maintaining regional biodiversity.

 Fraser River estuary

Share This Story!

Stand with us to defend wild Pacific salmon

Stand with us to defend wild Pacific salmon

Leave A Comment

Related Posts