The Planet's Biomass Treasury: the World Celebrates Wetlands Day

Большая белая цапля в Приморье. Фото: Елена Красных, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

On February 2, the world celebrates Wetlands Day, which are of great importance for the regeneration of oxygen, the accumulation and purification of water reserves, as well serving as habitats for waterfowl, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. It is here that most of the Earth's biomass is concentrated and biodiversity is very high. In 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, the Convention on Wetlands was signed – the first global international treaty entirely dedicated to one type of ecosystem.

Wetlands are areas of swamps, peatlands or reservoirs, natural or artificial, permanent or seasonal, standing or flowing, fresh, brackish or salty, including marine areas, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters. Waterfowl, according to Article 1 of the Ramsar Convention, refers to birds that are ecologically associated with wetlands.

Wetlands are extremely vulnerable. They top the list of endangered ecosystems. Developed by man in ancient times, these territories are destroyed under the influence of pollution, drainage, exploitation of their resources three times faster than the forests of our planet.


Малые белые цапли и чайки. Фото: Антон Юзбашев, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

To date, the Ramsar Convention has been signed by 172 states, where 2,439 wetlands of international importance have been allocated with a total area of ​​254,692 million hectares. In our country, which joined the treaty on February 11, 1977, there are 35 such territories. Their total area is approximately 10,324 million hectares.

Of great importance for the life and well-being of waterfowl is Sikhote-Alin Reserve with its abundance of clean streams, rivers and lakes, as well as the protected water area of ​​the Sea of ​​Japan. The largest concentrations of birds are observed on the lagoon lakes Blagodatnoe and Golubichnoe. During the spring-autumn migration, waterfowl replenish their strength here on their way to nesting sites. Some species have chosen safe reed beds along the banks for breeding.


Утки. Фото: Евгений Табалькин/Сихоте-Алинский заповедник

One of the main environmental tasks of Kirzinsky Nature Reserve in Novosibirsk Oblast is the protection of the flyways of waterfowl and shore birds, as well as mass nesting places for birds, among which there are many rare species listed in the Red Books. Among them is Lake Chany, which has been included in the list of wetlands located on the territory of the Russian Federation since 1994 and has international protection status.

Local lakes are home to many birds at different periods of their life cycle. The protected area is visited by almost all migratory species of Siberia. Some of them appear in the spring and remain for nesting, occupying swampy areas. A considerable number of bird flocks are migrating through here. In the reserve, which since 2010 has been under the operational management of Sayano-Shushensky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, there are willow ptarmigans, gray partridges, black grouses as well as numerous species of geese and ducks, waders, gulls, common cranes, gray herons, whooper swans, tundra swans, quails and other species.


Лебедь-кликун. Фото: Марина Зубаирова, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

Wetlands are one of the main values ​​of Khakassky Reserve. Here they include the waters and coasts of the large lakes Bele, Shira and Itkul, a small section of the coast of the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir, a number of smaller reservoirs and extensive marsh complexes.

In order for wetlands to remain attractive habitats for a huge number of birds, to provide water and oxygen supplies, it is necessary to follow simple rules: do not litter on the banks, do not pollute water, do not burn grass and coastal thickets. World Wetlands Day is intended to once again remind humanity of the fragility of the natural balance and the particular vulnerability of aquatic ecosystems.