Celebrating World Wetlands Day
Friday 2nd February 2018
Today is World Wetlands Day (Feb 2.) Today marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Wetlands of international importance are designated as Ramsar sites.
They include some stunning landscapes such as Victoria falls on the Zambezi river and the importance of these areas collectively for wildlife is profound. They are also very important for tourism, recreation and other industries such as agriculture and fishing. Many face threats such as pollution or the effects global warming.
Close to home Ramsar sites include Chesil Beach and the Fleet, Poole Harbour and the Dorset Heathlands. DWT plays an important role in either managing or raising awareness of these special places with their rich and specialised flora and fauna. Our River Catchment Team helps to improve wetlands within the county, particularly our rivers. Working with other organisations such as Wessex Water and the Environment Agency and with landowners we help to improve river habitats for their iconic wildlife. So many species associated with rivers have the ability to make your day.
On a recent day off while paddle-boarding on the Stour I was lucky enough to have three good views of otters and watched kingfishers catching fish. Visits to a river aren't always so blessed but with a little help from our work these elusive creatures are doing well. Seeing little egrets can be magical too and herons can have a real aura about them. Lowland rivers in their natural state would either be braided channels platting their way through vegetation or would meander merrily on their way to the sea. For hundreds of years humankind has straightened stretches reducing the amount of habitat available for wildlife including the fish the creatures mentioned above rely on. Where landowners are willing we can take measures to provide more niches for nature. These include:
We also survey watercourses particularly for invertebrates, mainly with the help of volunteers, this gives a good indication of water quality and changes in it. Our work benefits nature but can also help alleviate flooding, improve water quality and benefit farmers, anglers and anyone who enjoys seeing wildlife.
DWT has various ways people can help such as practical and survey work through our River Champions volunteer scheme and the Riverfly project that surveys invertebrates. If you're lucky enough to have a garden, installing a pond will also play an important part in helping wetland wildlife and help you watch it from your window.
By Dave Price -
Assistant Conservation Officer
DWT River Catchment Team
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