Wetlands are areas that are permanently or seasonally saturated by water, enough to support vegetation that can adapt to saturated soil conditions. The science of wetlands is known as paludology. February 2 of every year is celebrated in the Philippines and rest of the world as Wetlands Day to highlight the importance of wetlands to man.
The basic function of wetlands is to conserve and provide water, constituting economic, scientific, cultural and recreational value for the community. They play a vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Their other functions are:
- as water purification systems
- to regulate water flow and precipitation, and act as flood control system
- provide shoreline stability
- serve as reservoirs of biodiversity
Encroachment on, or loss of, wetlands can cause serious environmental damage to the ecosystem, so they should be restored and rehabilitated when possible. They should be conserved through “wise use”, which the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands defines as “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development.”
The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise of wetlands and their resources.
In the Philippines, there are to date four sites identified as “Wetlands of International Improtance” or simply called Ramsar Sites. These are the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Mindanao; the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu; and the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Palawan.
The world marks February 2 each year as World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar City in Iran on February 2, 1971. The Philippine government adopted its local celebration in 1999 with Presidential Proclamation No. 74, “Declaring February 2 of every year as National Wetlands Day.”
For more informationOn the country’s different wetlands – go to www.pawb.gov.ph
On the Ramsar Convention – go to www.ramsar.org