Today is World Wetlands Day. It is a day when the global community of people enthralled by wetlands, concerned for wetlands or who want to share a wetland story can come together in celebration of one of the most productive, species rich and culturally intriguing habitats on Earth. Ken Irvine, Professor of Aquatic Ecosystems at UNESCO-IHE, expresses his admiration for wetlands.
In the Netherlands, we celebrate Dutch engineering that keeps the country dry. The Dutch have crafted their skills of water management over 600 years, as a necessity for choosing to live below sea level; engineering the landscape, and even the wetlands such as the Biesbosch. While we marvel at engineering ingenuity, we can't forget the natural engineering provided by ecosystems, with wetlands a particularly good example.
As natural "shock absorbers" the green infrastructure of wetlands attenuate flooding, reduce nutrient enrichment to downstream lakes, rivers, and coastal regions, moderate local climate, support diverse human livelihoods and are havens of biodiversity. From beautiful rotifers to intricate plant communities; from large wetland antelopes to the specialised skills of bird species, wetlands are wonders of evolution and a joy to the senses.
So, on World Wetlands Day, we celebrate wetlands to act as a reminder of their ecological intricacies, their cultural and spiritual importance, and their important role for sustainable development. At UNESCO-IHE research on wetlands falls under the research theme Water & Ecosystems Quality.
Interested in studying wetlands? Learn more about our joint MSc programme on Limnology and Wetlands Management.