World Wetlands Day 2021
Posted on February 1st, 2021
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise global awareness for the vital role that wetlands play for people and the planet. This year we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Convention of Wetlands – an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Why are wetlands important?
Fresh and saltwater wetlands perform many functions that are essential for human survival, including:
- Holding and providing most of the earth’s fresh water
- Provide support for Queensland’s primary industry (saltmarsh, mangrove and seagrass wetlands provide nurseries for fish and seafood to grow and some wetlands provide water for irrigation and farm animals)
- Underpinning the global economy by providing services worth US $47 trillion each year
- Providing habitat for animals and encouraging biodiversity (40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands* )
- Protection from floods and storms (each acre of wetland can absorb over 5.6 million litres of floodwater)
- Regulate the climate by storing carbon
Why is wetland conservation important?
According to The Convention of Wetlands, we have a finite amount of water and our current use is unsustainable. Population growth, urbanisation and consumption patterns have put pressure on wetlands and the water in them. Additionally, since the 1700s, 90% of the world’s wetlands have been lost and remaining wetlands are disappearing at a rate three times faster than forests. In the Fitzroy region loss of wetlands has slowed and the region is privileged to have retained the majority of its wetlands. However, these wetlands are under pressure from pest species and loss of connectivity.
Wetland conservation efforts work to ensure that there is enough water in the future for humans and nature.
How FBA protects and enhances wetlands
The Fitzroy region has approximately 9,489 wetlands which include one internationally significant and 20 nationally significant wetlands+. Working with stakeholders, community members and landholders, FBA undertakes a large range of activities to rehabilitate, maintain and protect regional wetlands and the animals and vegetation who call them home.
Here are some examples of the work FBA has done and continues to do:
- Reducing the impact of feral species on the natural environment
(Podcast The Ripple Effect – Season 1, Episode 1, Harvesting sunshine and gravity)
- Upstream solutions to pollution – keeping wetlands free of debris
- Supporting local waterway monitoring
- Helping landholders prevent and reduce gully erosion
- Riverbank restoration projects
- Marine debris clean up events
How do we monitor the health of wetlands?
Understanding the condition of the Fitzroy region’s many wetlands is essential in determining the health of the entire catchment. The Queensland Government’s Great Barrier Reef Wetland Monitoring Program is responsible for tracking freshwater wetlands long-term trends, pressures and values in the Reef catchment area. The program systematically monitors hundreds of wetlands as part of the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (P2R program).
The P2R program is a world-leading scientific program funded by the Australian and Queensland governments that provides a framework for evaluating and reporting progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (Reef 2050 WQIP) targets. The P2R program links on-ground changes to measurable improvements in water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. Through rigorous monitoring, modelling and reporting, the P2R program helps identify what on-ground changes are making positive impacts on our most important assets.