World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date2 February 2024
2025 Date2 February 2025

World Wetlands Day

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World Wetlands Day is dedicated to bringing awareness about the importance of wetlands, their rich biodiversity and the critical role they play in climate change adaptation and mitigation. The focus is to generate awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet. The observance underscores the need for global cooperation in safeguarding these unique ecosystems, which provide essential services such as water filtration, storm buffering, and biodiversity support.

World Wetlands Day was established by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, and has been internationally observed ever since. New Zealand, famously characterized by a variety of stunning wetland dependencies from ecologically important marshes to estuarine systems, has been part of the Convention since 1976. For New Zealanders, the observance holds specific importance as the nation is home to numerous wetland sites that are of international significance. It also serves as a reminder of the continued efforts required to protect and conserve these ecosystems, bearing additional weight in light of the fact that over 90% of the original wetland areas in New Zealand have been lost to drainage and development.

Every year in New Zealand, World Wetlands Day is observed through a variety of activities including educational events, environmental clean-ups, and community involvement initiatives. These activities aim at highlighting the importance of wetlands and encouraging their conservation. Despite the global date of 2nd February, the specific New Zealand observance of World Wetlands Day may often take place on the weekend closest to this date to accommodate community participation. Despite these challenges, New Zealand continues to strive for the protection and restoration of these vital ecosystems.

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Facts about World Wetlands Day

  • The theme for World Wetlands Day in 2024 was Wetlands and Human Wellbeing. The theme in 2023 was Wetland Restoration.
  • The Pantanal which is located in South America, measures over 42 million acres and is the world’s largest tropical wetland.
  • New Zealand’s wetlands have been in decline since human settlement, with an estimated 90% of wetlands lost due to drainage, agricultural development, and urbanization.
  • Wetlands hold important cultural values for Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. They consider wetlands as taonga (treasures) and have traditionally used them for food gathering, fiber harvesting, and as sites of spiritual significance.

Top things to do in NZ for World Wetlands Day

  • Go outdoors and participate in events and activities such as tree planting, bird watching.
  • Spread awareness on social media by using hashtags such as #WorldWetlandsDay or #WetlandsMatter
  • Read a book to learn more about Wetlands in New Zealand:
    Wetlands of New Zealand: A Bitter-Sweet Story - by Janet Hunt
    New Zealand's Indigenous Forests and Wetlands - by Geoff Park
  • Visit the Firth of Thames: This is one of the most significant wetland sites in New Zealand. It is home to a wide variety of bird species. The site is particularly important for waders, with up to 40,000 birds present in the summer.

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