“World Wetlands Day” is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups have celebrated World Wetlands Day by undertaking actions to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands. These activities include seminars, nature walks, and festivals, announcement of new Ramsar sites, newspaper articles, radio interviews and wetland rehabilitation.
The international theme for World Wetlands Day 2018 is ‘Wetlands for a sustainable urban future’. Urban wetlands make cities liveable in many important ways. They reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, provide urban green spaces, and are a source of livelihoods. Urban wetlands should be integrated into a city’s sustainable future planning and development.
‘World Wetlands Day’ celebration was observed by Anti-Pollution Drive (APD) Foundation in association with Sri Ramakrishna Degree College, Bunts Hostel Rd-Mangaluru, Antony Waste Management Cell Pvt Ltd and Mangaluru City Corporation at Sri Ramakrishna College-Mangaluru on Wednesday, 7 February 2018. The programme was inaugurated by lighting of the traditional lamp by chief guest-Mahesh Nayak-Executive Editor of Mangalore Today Website, along with other dignitaries on the dais namely APD Foundation’s founder Abdullah A. Rehman; Ms Nagaveni, chairperson, Standing Committee for Public Health, Education and Social Justice at Mangaluru City Corporation; Prakash Kurup- Senior Manager, Antony Waste Management Cell Ltd; Prof K Shrikar-Principal and Ms Prathima Shetty- Principal and Vice Principal respectively of Sri Ramakrishna Degree College; V G Bhat and Jennifer Alva- NSS Programme Officers at the college.
Chief guest Mahesh Nayak addressing the audience narrating his experience about wetlands in Mangaluru during his youth days said, ” Going back to my youth days, I remember there were many wetlands in Mangaluru, including many paddy fields, rivers and so on. As years went by, all these wetlands made way for City’s infrastructure, when apartments, multi-storeyed buildings, commercial complexes, Malls etc. The beauty and green nature of all these wetlands were lost. You hardly find any wetland in Mangaluru now, just for a few here and there. Wetlands are often referred to as “Earth’s kidneys” because they provide the same functions, absorbing wastes such as nitrogen and phosphorous. When excess amounts of these substances—nutrient loading—flow into waterways it can mean harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and summer fish kills.”
“Recognizing the importance of wetlands, many communities are taking steps to protect, restore, and even create wetlands. For example, many stream restoration projects include constructing wetlands to absorb storm water runoff and absorb excess nutrients and other pollutants that flow in from a host of sources across the watershed (known collectively as non-point source pollutants). These constructed wetlands can provide key elements to urban storm water management because they help reduce the impacts of runoff after a rainstorm. Such runoff typically transports high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous and suspended solids from road surfaces into waterways. Just like how our kidneys are an essential aspect of the human body, wetlands are an important aspect of nature. Retaining additional nutrients and treating non-point source pollutants help give natural and constructed wetlands the affectionate nickname of “Earth’s Kidneys.” While we are observing ‘Wetlands day’, we should see that we save wetlands for good and eco-friendly environment” added Mahesh Nayak.
On 6th February 2018, a sketching competition and debate competition was held in the college premises which saw 50 odd participants. The theme for the sketching competition was Wetlands for sustainable urban development. While the students debated for topics like ban on plastic bags, wood consumption is on the rise and wetlands are much needed for this era, both the competition revealed the spirit of fostering the nature and bringing back the once lost greenery in and around Mangaluru.
Wetlands may be natural or artificial and the water within a wetland may be static or flowing, fresh, brackish or saline. There are even underground wetlands. Why are wetlands important? Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. They provide habitat for animals and plants and many contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere else. Wetlands provide an important range of environmental, social and economic services. Many wetlands are areas of great natural beauty. Wetlands also provide important benefits for industry. For example, they form nurseries for fish and other freshwater and marine life. Wetlands are the vital link between land and water. So it’s time that we consider this issue seriously, and try to protect our wetlands before they vanish.