Wetland restoration secures much-needed water resources | WWF

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Wetland restoration secures much-needed water resources

Seen from space, our “blue” planet seems overflowing with water. However, only a fraction of water on the planet is drinking water. On World Wetlands Day we point out the importance of wetland conservation and restoration to preserve freshwater resources and our future

Zagreb, Zadar – At first glance, water seems to be endless. Yet, only 2.5% of water is fresh water, and less than 1% is suitable for drinking. Only 0.3% is stored in rivers and lakes. The remaining fresh water is stored in wetlands like swamps, ponds, floodplains, peatlands, etc. Over the years, unsustainable development, population growth, urbanization, and consumption have devastated wetlands, putting unbearable pressure on most of our freshwater supplies.
 
On World Wetlands Day, celebrated on 2 February each year, we point out the importance of preserving freshwater resources and ecosystems if we want a future in which clean water is available to all.
 
“Drainage of lakes and swamps, dams and other river infrastructure, as well as other unsustainable water management practices threaten our survival and survival of life on land. Not only do wetlands store and purify most of our drinking water, they also supply food and raw materials, crucial for sustaining local economies. They’re also vital hubs for biodiversity, and they have a critically important role to play in the fight against climate change. For example, peatlands hold nearly 30% of all the carbon stored on land and mitigate climate change, while wetland ecosystem services are much larger than those produced by forests”, said Irma Popović Dujmović from WWF Adria.
 
The conservation of wetlands is especially important on islands where freshwater sources are limited and where effects of climate change will have more impact on everyday life.

„Throughout history, island wetlands had a crucial role for human livelihoods. Today they are forgotten and often drowned in garbage, regulated and drained. As part of the MedIsWet - Conservation of Island Wetlands of the Mediterranean Basin project we mapped and assessed the condition of 151 wetlands on 31 islands in the Adriatic. Although some of them are in good condition and under certain protection, there are still a large number of those threatened with disappearance. Fortunately, some institutions have recognized the importance of their conservation and restoration", said Boris Lauš from the Association Hyla.


© Natura Jadera 

One of them is Natura Jadera - Public Institution for Management of Protected Areas in Zadar County. Last year, in cooperation with national water management agency Croatian Waters and with help from the MedIsWet project, they started restoration of Sakarun Pond on Dugi Otok Island. The Sakarun Pond was overgrown with vegetation, filled with excess organic material, unable to retain water which led to a significant loss of biodiversity (amphibians, waterfowl, dragonflies, etc.). The restoration of Sakarun Pond is a great example of how local initiatives can reverse trends and contribute to island wetlands conservation. This year, Association Hyla and Natura Jadera will continue with the restoration of the island wetlands. They will clean and improve the status of the ornithological reserve and one of the three largest lakes on the Island of Pag – Malo Blato.
 
“Public institution Natura Jadera has 13 protected areas in its jurisdiction, two of which are ornithological reserves – Kolanjsko Blato, and Veliko and Malo Blato – on Pag Island. These wetlands are important habitats for many endangered and protected species, especially birds. Out of 268 bird species that can be found on Pag, 122 are migratory birds for whom these wetlands are crucial as resting and feeding places on their long voyage”, said Morana Bačić from Natura Jadera.
 
We must understand that water security and quality is the responsibility of all of us and that each one of us can contribute to its conservation. It is time to start restoring wetlands, lakes and rivers to secure our future and protect one of the fundamental human rights – the right to clean water.

 

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