World Wetlands Day: Protecting the Vital Ecosystems 

Today, February 2nd marks World Wetlands Day under the theme “Preserving Vital Ecosystems for Human Wellbeing.”

The theme serves as a powerful reminder that everyone has a role to play in conserving the environment, especially when it comes to protecting wetlands.

Why are wetlands important? They are incredibly rich reservoirs of biodiversity, teeming with life and providing essential services for both humans and nature.

Early civilizations thrived around wetlands because they offered reliable access to clean water and food, fostering the growth of societies and agricultural practices.

Covering only 6% of the planet’s land area, wetlands are often called the unsung heroes of our planet for their irreplaceable roles. These diverse ecosystems, encompassing not just swamps and marshes but also lakes, rivers, and even managed ecosystems like fishponds and rice paddies, play vital roles in our well-being.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment HE Soipan Tuya, as she presided over the celebration at Lake Narasha (Timboroa Dam) in Uasin Gishu County, revealed that wetlands are at the core of the 10-year National Landscapes and Ecosystems Restoration Strategy, the anchor blueprint for the Government’s flagship 15bn National Tree Growing Programme.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Climate Change, CS Soipan Tuya

“Restoration of wetlands is a priority for the Government because of their immense ecological benefits that include acting as oases of livelihoods for communities and drivers of Kenya’s socioeconomic transformation,” said CS Soipan Tuya.

They purify our water, control floods, provide crucial habitat for countless species, and even store carbon, helping to combat climate change.

These ecosystems play a crucial role in preserving the environment as they absorb and store the largest amounts of carbon than any other ecosystem.

Wetlands are a hub for biodiversity and offer habitats to more than 100,000 species hence the degradation and encroachment by humanity are constantly threatening survival for both nature and humanity in general. It’s essential to note that wetlands ecosystems are essential for environmental balance and human well-being.

Despite covering only 6% of the Earth’s land surface, this ecosystem is home to an astonishing 40% of all plant and animal species. This biodiversity isn’t just beautiful; it’s crucial for our health, food security, and tourism industry.

Wetlands provide a myriad of benefits, from water regulation to climate mitigation and cultural value. Understanding and appreciating these contributions is key to ensuring their preservation for future generations.

Wetlands species, according to science analysts, are rapidly going extinct than terrestrial and marine species which is attributed to habitat loss, pollution, and more anthropogenic activities.

This has further signified an urgency in response through the conservation and protection of wetlands as they offer communities not only economic benefits but also social and cultural benefits that in turn support human well-being.

an image of a wetland …. source@online

These revelations have emphasized the necessity for wetlands restoration if we are to overcome the climate and loss of nature crises globally.

Restoration of Wetlands

For the effective restoration of this ecosystem, the inclusion of all stakeholders is crucial, particularly indigenous and local communities.

These groups hold intimate knowledge of their ancestral lands and deep-seated stewardship that motivates them to protect and preserve wetlands for future generations. Leaving them behind would be shortsighted.

Local communities play a significant role in protecting this ecosystem through sustainable practices and resource use. Restoration, reafforestation, sustainable farming techniques, and alternative livelihoods all contribute to this aim, preventing further damage to these vital ecosystems.

Safeguarding wetlands from human activities is paramount. Encroachment for infrastructure development disrupts these ecosystems, leading to biodiversity loss, diminished carbon sequestration (reducing our planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide), and even impacting the food security of species within the wetland.

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