World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day

3 February

World Wetlands Day

February 2 is World Wetlands Day.

The organizers of this international day, holding various events, aim to draw attention of the public and leaders of different countries to the need to protect the habitat of waterfowl and the importance of wetlands in the ecosystem of the Earth.

The notion "wetlands", besides wetlands themselves, includes shallow lakes, seashore areas, and river deltas.

In the image of most people wetlands are mosquitoes, mud and marsh, where you can drown, and fabulous evil things live. However, wetlands, along with forests, are essential oxygen regenerators, and the main value of wetlands lies in their ability to store water and improve its quality. Wetlands are water storages. Water, after passing through sphagnum mosses, which are good antiseptics, immediately becomes clean and sterile. Also, wetlands are a geochemical filter that traps various harmful substances and heavy metals.

Wetlands play a role in reducing the negative impact of floods and droughts, reduce the force of floods by slowing the flow of surface water flowing into rivers and lakes. Wetlands act as a natural sponge that absorbs and retains precipitation, reducing water runoff. During the dry season, wetlands gradually release their stored water reserves, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water scarcity. A well-developed network of wetlands in floodplains helps reduce or even prevent flooding in downstream areas.

In addition, wetlands are home to many animals and home to many plant species (including rare ones).

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat was signed on February 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. It is called Ramsar Convention since then and the day of its signing is declared the World Wetlands Day. The main objective of the Ramsar Convention is protection of sea bays, lakes and wetlands from pollution by chemical wastes.

Russia (as a part of USSR) joined the Ramsar Convention in 1975. By now more than 170 countries have signed the Convention.

The list of wetlands in the Russian Federation, approved by the government resolution No. 1050 of September 13, 1994 "On measures to meet Russia's obligations arising from the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, February 2, 1971" includes 35 valuable natural objects and territories in 21 administrative regions of the Russian Federation. The area of these wetlands exceeds 11 million hectares. By August about 10 million waterfowl congregate on this area, which is 12% of the Russian population.

About 10% of the territory of Russia are swamps, and the most famous wetland in the country is the Great Vasyuganskoye Swamp, which claims to be the "largest swamp in the world". It spreads over an area of 53 thousand km² in the Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Omsk regions, between the major Siberian rivers Ob and Irtysh.

For the last decades, the marshes have been under massive human attack. Draining the marshes gives mankind fuel and fertile land, but at the same time we get huge ecological consequences. In a few years after draining, all the vegetation inherent in the swamp dies, and a useless wasteland is formed in the place of the former swamp. The peat is very quickly depleted (from 2-3 to 10-12 cm per year).
Draining the bogs disturbs the nutrition of small rivers flowing out of the bog, which in turn are the sources of larger ones. As a result of the continuous drainage of bogs, many of them have simply disappeared. After draining the bogs the forests dry up, the diversity of their flora and fauna significantly decreases.

On the territory of the geopark "Yangan-Tau" there are several partially drained in Soviet times for hayfields or pastures (Mechetlinskoye, Kusepeevskoye, Aiskoye, Meshchegarovskoye, Akshishminskoye, Elgildinskoye, etc.). Two bogs - Arkaulovskoye and Lagerevskoye - are regional natural monuments.