If the ocean is the blue heart of the planet, then wetlands are the kidneys, naturally filtering out impurities from our drinking water supply.
Once considered useless mosquito-infested swamplands, many of the world’s wetlands have been drained or cemented over, giving way to farmlands and shopping malls.
Nature’s delicate design can be seen in wetlands. On the outskirts, they provide a nursery for young-ocean life like shrimp and fish, and, at the core, a place of last resort for many endangered plants and animals.
Today, on World Wetlands Day, we pay homage to what remains of these picturesque landscapes that provide the vital link between land and sea.
- The Pantanal, which covers 150,000 km2 (57,915 mi2) and straddles Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is the largest and best-preserved wetland in the world.
- The “wettest” wetlands in the world are in Southeast Asia, where heavy rains can provide up to 10,000 mm (about 200 in) of water a year.
- An international treaty, known as the Ramsar Convention, was signed by 160 countries on Feb. 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, to help preserve the world’s wetlands. The member nations have designated over 190,000,000 hectares to date.
- The Florida Everglades is the largest wetland restoration project in the world, which is expected to take 30 years and cost over $13 billion dollars.
— Annie Reisewitz, Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions
Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore