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Wetlands Alberta

Engaging Albertans to conserve and protect wetlands

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News from February 2009

Celebrate World Wetlands Day

February 2, 2009

What is World Wetlands Day?

February 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning. Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

World Wetlands Day 2009

Upstream-Downstream – Wetlands connect us all

The suggested theme for this year is river basins and their management. We all live in a river basin (or drainage basin, catchment, watershed, etc.), and most of the people reading this are well aware of the challenges of managing it – and particularly the challenge of making sure that the basin planners think of wetlands and not just water in their planning.

WWD this year, February 2, 2009 or thereabouts, will be an opportunity for people to look around at their own wetland and its interconnections with the environment around it – how the wetland benefits the surroundings and, of course, how activities throughout the river basin may affect their wetland.

The suggested slogan for this year – “Upstream – Downstream” – captures this sense of how interconnected we all are within the river basin, how we can be impacted by the activities of those upstream of us and how our activities affect those downstream.

The Convention has put a great deal of energy over many years into providing guidance on managing river basins because it is such a vital issue: good site management can be quickly negated by bad decisions on managing water at the basin level. While wetland managers need to engage at all levels with the water managers, the basin level is probably the most challenging.

There is another dimension to consider, too, and that is raising the awareness of all people about their river basins. It’s not just about planners, it’s also about users, and we are all users of water in river basins. Whoever we are – farmer, fisher, factory owner, or family – our activities have an impact on the basin in which we live, so ensuring that we can bring about a better understanding of how a river basin functions, of the impact of the users – and the abusers – and the challenges of good management, is our key focus for World Wetlands Day 2009.

For more information visit The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands website.