World Wetlands Day

The World Wetlands Day is arranged annually across the whole world on the 2nd February. DNV marks this day with an outdoors event each year, even though it tends to be a bit chilly in Norway in February!

The 2nd of February was the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, also called the Ramsar Convention, that was agreed to by many of the world’s governments in the city of Ramsar in 1971. The convention, or agreement, concerns the conservation and protection of wetlands internationally. We have 63 areas in Norway (as of the 23.03.2017) with Ramsar status, the Dokka delta nature reserve is one of these.

 

Wetlands are internationally one of the most threatened habitat types that we have. Development, drainage and excavation are all factors leading to the disappearance of wetlands worldwide. Wetlands are essential in helping to reduce the chances of natural disasters, as they act as flood protection – able to regulate and store huge masses of water. This is especially important in a world with more extreme weather events and much uncertainty about the future’s climate. They can only perform this role if they are intact.

 

Many people around the world are dependent on healthy wetlands. They rely on wetlands for food resources, clean water and transport routes. The destruction, pollution and drainage of wetlands are all worrying factors negatively affecting huge numbers of people in the developing world. The loss of wetlands means the loss of clean water, food and other essential natural resources.

 

Even if the 2nd of February falls within the coldest time of the year in Norway our winter wetlands are still captivating with their icy rivers and frozen lakes. In the years between 2011 and 2013 ice sculptures were created to celebrate the day. During the last few years, we have worked in partnership with the Land Museum to mark the day with lectures, pictures and exhibitions concerning wetlands. There has been much focus on mires, an often forgotten and unappreciated habitat type that performs many ecosystem services in the form of flood prevention, clean water and carbon storage.

 

Wetlands are in many of their forms vital for species diversity. Many species of birds are dependent on wetlands to find food and as resting and nesting areas. There is often much nutrition to be found in delta areas and food is easily accessible – this results in high concentrations of water birds such as ducks, waders, cranes, swans and grebes. In addition to this, there are many other bird species that feed in delta areas, for example, pied wagtails, starlings, hooded crows, seagulls, raptors and many small perching bird species. Many species are found in association with mires, such as cranes, black grouse, western yellow wagtail, snipes, waders. Several of these species are dependent on this disappearing habitat type.

  

Peat extraction and forestry has led to the destruction and dissaperance of large areas of Norway’s mires. Many rivers, especially in the cultural landscape, have been heavily modified to meet the needs to humans. In Norway during the last few years there has been much focus on the restoration of these rivers and mires that have been drained or had their courses changed due to human activity. DNV is currently working with several mire restoration projects, as well as re-meandering of river courses to return these habitats to their original conditions (more info on this can be in the projects section of this website).

  

We have also established a Norwegian wetland day in Norway that is held on the 2nd of September, due to the World Wetlands Day falling in winter.

Icesculputes in the Dokka delta. Photo: Thor Østbye

 

Photo: Thor Østbye