World Wetlands Day is on 2 February each year. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. This is an international date with a different theme and message on a relevant subject set each year by the Ramsar Secretariat.
World Wetlands Day 2017 was an opportunity to raise awareness around the theme of wetlands for disaster risk reduction.
The frequency of disasters worldwide has more than doubled in just 35 years – driven by climate and weather related hazards like flooding, cyclones, and droughts. New Zealand has not been immune from weather-related disaster. All too often we see on television homes and businesses knee-deep in water and mud from flooding after heavy rain.
We can't stop natural disasters from occurring but in some instances, we can reduce the impact of flooding. We can manage wetlands so they act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall. During periods of low rainfall, the stored water helps maintain ground water levels delaying the onset of drought. Similarly, coastal wetlands act as a natural protective buffer while mangroves bind the shoreline and help reduce storm surge.
National Wetlands Coordinator