World Wetlands Day - Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future

Bonn, 1 February 2018 - It is a common misconception to think of nature being confined to the countryside with urban areas being bereft of wildlife – foxes are not an uncommon sight in London, there are goshawks in Berlin, Peregrine Falcons can often be seen flying round and even perching on the UN building in Bonn and giraffes and rhinos roam in the Nairobi National Park against the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers just a few kilometres away.

This year’s World Wetlands Day, being celebrated as usual on 2 February, has the theme “wetlands for a sustainable urban future”, emphasizing the benefits that thriving, healthy wetlands bring to improve the quality of life and make cities liveable.  By acting as giant sponges, wetlands help prevent flooding by absorbing flood waters; they help fill aquifers for drinking water, filter waste, improve the air quality, promote human health and provide employment and recreational opportunities.

Mumbai in India is one of the world’s great metropolises and is home to 20 million people.  Amazingly in the heart of the city lies Thane Creek, a branch of the inlet that forms Mumbai Bay close to the busy commercial port.  The creek supports mangroves and a population of 30,000 migratory Greater and Lesser Flamingos and numerous waders that feed on the algae and molluscs that can be found in the mudflats.  In all, 200 or so species have been reported, some sedentary, some migratory and several that are globally threatened.

Thane Creek was granted additional protected status after the go-ahead was given for the construction of the US$2.6 billion, 22-km long viaduct connecting Mumbai with its satellite city, Navi Mumbai.

Local conservationists are now planning to organize boat trips to allow the public to have a closer look at the Flamingos.  Guidelines are in place to ensure that the birds are not disturbed.

India is likely to be the focus of much greater attention for CMS in the coming years,  as the country will be the hosts of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, scheduled to take place in 2020.

Initiated in 1997, World Wetlands Day is held on 2 February each year to mark the date on which the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat was signed in 1971.  The aim of the day is to raise awareness of the importance of preserving wetlands.

Last updated on 19 March 2018