Cities across the world are celebrating World Wetlands Day (WWD) today, Feb. 2, and Ducks Unlimited (DU) added its voice to raise awareness of this important day. Since 1937, DU has conserved more than 14 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats across North America. On average, DU and its many partners help conserve more than 250,000 acres per year.
WWD marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on Feb. 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and the Ramsar Convention.
“Ducks Unlimited focuses on conserving wetlands to maintain healthy waterfowl populations, but the state of our wetlands affects everyone in many ways,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Conservation Officer Nick Wiley.
DU’s conservation projects provide habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife. People also benefit from healthy wetlands and grasslands, which provide flood absorption, community resilience, clean water, recreational opportunities and fisheries resources. And while people across the globe rely on wetlands to help provide clean water, in the last 50 years the United States alone has lost more than 17 million acres of wetlands.
“World Wetlands Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the threats wetlands face and how they are important. Every day, however, is wetlands day at Ducks Unlimited, and without the support of great, conservation-minded partners our work would certainly be limited,” Wiley said.
Economists estimate that one acre of wetlands can provide up to $200,000 worth of benefits to people. Nearly 44 percent of America’s population regularly depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply, not to mention the health benefits of wetlands. Wetlands in or near urban areas are the focus of this year’s WWD theme. Parks, ponds and near-urban wildlife refuges provide important opportunities for people to spend time outdoors in a healthy, natural setting.