World Wetlands Day, 2nd February
2nd February 2021
Today is World Wetlands Day, a celebration of watery landscapes worldwide.
Wetlands are a hugely varied set of habitats including marsh, reedbeds, mangrove and seasonal floodplains. Our partners are working on wetlands around the world – here are some of their projects.
RSPB’s Wallasea Island on the Essex Coast is an ongoing project Prior to being enclosed by the current sea walls, Wallasea ‘Island’ was made up of five separate saltmarsh islands. These areas of saltmarsh were progressively enclosed by sea defences, and the area was largely managed with sheep as coastal grazing marsh until the drainage/conversion to arable took place from the 1930s. Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project will transform this island back into a magical intertidal coastal marshland. Managed realignment of the coast, has taken place, using spoil from the Crossrail project to raise the land level. The new habitats created through this remarkable project will support a stunning array of nationally and internationally important bird populations, as well as a host of other wildlife.
The Endangered Landscapes Programme are working in Polesia, a region bordering Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia and shaped significantly by the Prypiat River. This massive lowland region covers more than 18 million ha. and is one of Europe’s largest natural complexes, with habitats including transitional mires, fens, and marshes, raised bogs, wetlands, peatlands and ponds. The area is home to nationally and internationally-threatened populations of mammals, including wolf, lynx and European bison, but is under threat from many human activities. These include fires, drainage, unsustainable hunting and berry foraging, illegal amber mining, radioactive contamination (caused by the Chernobyl disaster of 1986) and construction of roads and pipelines. This project will create a contiguous network of protected areas creating habitat for many threatened species.
Meanwhile, Fauna & Flora International are working with local community groups as well as relevant government departments in Myanmar to protect Indawgyi Lake, the third largest in SE Asia. The lake and its associated wetland is an important wintering site for over 20,000 water birds. Seasonally flooded grassland supports a significant population of the endangered hog deer, while the forests of the watershed are home to globally threatened mammal species such as the eastern hoolock gibbon, Shortridge’s langur, Asiatic black bear, Chinese pangolin and gaur. The area is under threat from unsustainable fisheries, deforestation, pollution caused by gold mining and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the lack of waste management and sanitation.