World Wetlands Day February 2nd
February 2, 2007 World Wetlands Day, marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. The main wetlands we celebrate along the Mexican Caribbean are the mangroves—forested intertidal ecosystems. They are sediment-rich tropical coastal environments with trees, shrubs, ferns and palms adapted to both salt and fresh water. Mangrove roots project above the mud and water in order to absorb oxygen. They help stabilize coastlines, are home to many types of animals, and are important in maintaining coastal food webs and populations of animals that depend upon the mangrove at different stages of their life cycle, such as birds, fish, and crustaceans. Mangroves help regulate fresh water, nutrients and sediment inputs into marine areas, controlling the quality of coastal waters and working to control pollution through their capacity to absorb organic pollutants and nutrients. Finally, mangroves play a key role in storm protection and coastal stabilization.
Unfortunately, the world's mangroves are being degraded by unsustainable exploitation practices—habitat destruction and pollution. In Mexico, for example, the law that protected mangroves was revoked in favor of tourism development, opening the way for destruction along the entire coast.
While Mexico is number one in declaring Ramsar sites (specially designated wetland areas), with over 5 million hectares declared, it has removed legal support for mangrove protection. Our coastal wetlands are no longer protected. Many groups, like CEA, are working to help decision-makers understand the importance of mangroves and reverse the destruction that is currently underway. Celebrate wetlands!
Learn more about World Conservation Monitoring Center and The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.