Article by: Jeannette Victor
Yes yes, it’s here again! I know many of you may ask what is here again; the festive season being over. World Wetlands Day is here again. Then comes the follow up question; ‘What is World Wetlands Day?’ Well folks reading is one form of gaining knowledge, so come on, let’s read on!
Every year, February 2, is observed as World Wetlands Day around the globe. It is an important day as Wetlands play a vital role in the environment. Wetlands are defined as areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil year round or for varying periods of time during the year (Ramsar.org). In St.Lucia the important wetland areas (coastal wetlands) include but not limited to Boriel’s Pond, Savannes Bay and Makoté Mangrove, all located in Vieux-Fort.
The ecosystems of wetland areas have unique components; the soil, water, plants and animals. Freshwater, saltwater or brackish water are the three types of water that can be found in wetlands. These areas are home to many migratory birds that move to the warmer climate when their natural environment becomes too cold. Mangroves, swamps, marshes and fens are all associated with wetlands.
There are two different types of wetlands; inland wetlands or coastal wetlands. Inland Wetlands like lakes and ponds soak up the excess water that can cause floods after heavy rain. They are also used as fishing ponds for fresh water fish and rice cultivation. Coastal Wetlands protect the shorelines as they act as a natural barrier. It can be considered as a safe haven for many young animals like crustaceans, fish and amphibians.
|Makote Mangrove, Vieux Fort|
The plants as well as the wildlife found in the wetlands maintain this special ecosystem as it acts as a water purifier as the water is being filtered of its impurity before flowing into other water systems. Wetlands also support agriculture as it prevents saltwater intrusion that can be detrimental to agricultural crops. Wetlands in many parts of the world are used for food production, whether it is through aquaculture, grazing of animals especially in seasonal wetlands, abstraction of water from wetlands for irrigation etcetera, hence the theme for this year; Wetlands and Agriculture; Partners for Growth.
|Boriel's Pond, Vieux Fort|
It is not wise to dump waste products nor should you encourage others to do so in our wetlands, unfortunately a practice which is widespread here. Do not indiscriminately cut down the trees to facilitate charcoal production, nor should it be destroyed along the coastal regions for hotel development. Sustainable management is vital. Secure our wetlands today for a better tomorrow!