Indispensable allies in the fight against global warming, wetlands are highly threatened and degraded all over the world. The United Nations estimates that 35% of wetlands have disappeared since 1970 despite having many unknown benefits, such as disaster mitigation, carbon sequestration and human health.
The (Where ) has just updated its last report on the state of in the world and on the importance of their . While all eyes are on the degradation of the or on the disappearance , the are the the most threatened on the planet: the marshes, , wet meadows, lagoons, mangroves and other water points are currently disappearing at a rate 3 times faster than forests. 36% of species dependent on are threatened globally. Yet little known, the role of wetlands is crucial in the functioning of the : reservoir of biodiversity, but also disaster mitigation, human health, and .
Threats: agriculture, livestock, pollution and climate change
Wetlands have a cumulative global area of 1.2 billion hectares; this results in a territory larger than that of Canada. But in just 50 years, they have already lost a third of their total surface.
The anarchic exploitation of land (in particular) is the first factor in the degradation of , while the Convention on Wetlands insists that “ the future of sustainable food production depends on healthy wetlands and their wise use ”. L’ is responsible for the disappearance of more than half of wetlands since 1970. Next come the overexploitation of farm animals, plants, pollution, , but also , as well as the hunting and fishing of species essential to the functioning of these zones. And the Convention’s predictions are rather bleak for the future: all these threats to land and biodiversity ” are expected to continue or worsen in many future scenarios, in response to indirect factors such as rapid human population growth, unsustainable production and consumption, and technological development . »
Agriculture has been responsible for the disappearance of more than half of wetlands since 1970
Wetlands are also particularly affected by the consequences of climate change: rise in sea level,and upheaval of the . Among all the wetlands of the world, the wetlands and mountain are more exposed to climatic risks. In areas rather dry, caused to suffer even more from the with the , the is becoming more and more important, drying up many wetlands essential to biodiversity and to the human population.
Another geographical area where the deterioration of wetlands is unquestionable, the Mediterranean region. Since 1992,has decreased by 52% and its biodiversity by 28%. the of rivers in the Mediterranean basin decreased by 25 to 70% between 1960 and 2000, with repercussions on seasonal wetlands. Intensive agriculture consumes two thirds of the freshwater resources of the Mediterranean. With more than 42% of the Mediterranean population living on the coast, establishments, industry and tourism are degrading coastal wetlands and demand for water is increasing.
The little-known benefits of wetlands
The interest in safeguarding and restoring the planet’s wetlands is manifold and often totally unknown to farmers, breeders and more generally to local populations. The Convention estimates that 4 billion people (out of a global population of almost 8 billion) are directly dependent on wetlands for their survival. The economic value of wetlands for the services they provide to humanity is estimated at $ 47.4 trillion per year!
One of the goals of the United Nations is to restore 50% of peatlands destroyed by 2030.
Coastal wetlands, such as, sequester the 55 times faster than . The , which cover only 3% of the world’s surface, sequester 30% of the present underground. Peatlands and coastal blue carbon ecosystems (salt marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds, etc.) in good condition are very efficient carbon sinks, but if they are degraded, they become important sources of carbon. .
One of the objectives of the United Nations is moreover to restore 50% of the destroyed peatlands by 2030. Mangroves,and the navies also act as barriers that mitigate the ribs in case of and . On land, peat bogs, ponds, rivers and water points in general absorb excess water in the event of a flood and retain it in the event of drought. These ecosystems are part of what are called the
The good health of the population also depends on well-managed wetlands: “ Control ofdepends on the preservation of intact and well-managed ecosystems and local biodiversity. Taking an ecosystem approach to wetlands can have health benefits for everyone. The degradation of ecosystems and the senseless trade in wildlife increase the risks of devastating and three quarters of new diseases are of zoonotic origin ”. What’s more, ” water-related diseases, such as children, transported in unsanitary waters, are also favored by poor management of wetlands and kill millions of people every year ”.
In order to better publicize the importance of wetlands and encourage their protection and restoration all over the world, decided to dedicate a World Day to these ecosystems. February 2 of each year will henceforth be “World Wetlands Day”.
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