Despite a protection agreement, the state of wetlands continues to worsen due to human activity

Human activities continue to exacerbate wetland degradation despite the protection afforded by the Ramsar Convention. Archive


Despite a protection agreement, the state of wetlands continues to worsen due to human activity

February 3, 2021 – 2:03 p.m.

Human activities continue to aggravate the deterioration of wetlands despite the protection offered by the Ramsar Convention, which was signed 50 years ago yesterday, the International Day of these humid ecosystems (February 2).

This convention has the mission of acting as an “umbrella” for wetlands, considered as “the best indicators of environmental quality” as explained to the EFE agency by researchers such as Santos Cirujano, from the Royal Botanical Garden (RJB-CSIC), who blames [wetlands’] decline on ” the growing demand for water from agricultural activities, which consume 70% of the world’s water .”

Cirujano has warned that “there is not much to celebrate” on this 50th anniversary, because “the health of wetlands worsens at the same rate as global pollution increases”, so “a wake-up call is necessary if we want to conserve them.”

In fact, to highlight the importance of these valuable but fragile natural spaces, the phrase that Ramsar subscribes this year is ‘Water, wetlands and life’, recalls this researcher, for whom the agreement is “in reality, a prestigious list” that it integrates the most important wetlands in the world, but “only works if the member states are involved”, because the treaty “does not ensure the recovery or conservation of a specific wetland”.

Also concerned is Miguel Álvarez, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC), who has described the Ramsar agreement as “a well-intentioned multilateral initiative”, although at the moment of truth “people do not care about the wetlands, live with their back to them.”

This is because they have traditionally been considered “uninhabitable places and malaria centers” which, together with their progressive deterioration, “leads to their disappearance.”

In fact, the decline of these humid ecosystems “has accelerated in the last century”, so that their recovery can only be considered as “a long-term objective” [and a problem] for which environmental education will be essential.

A clear case is that of the Tablas de Daimiel that “at present can have about 25 square kilometers flooded but in the 19th century they covered an area greater than 150 square kilometers.

This setback has occurred “in less than 100 years” and, according to Álvarez, is directly related to “the exploitation of aquifer 23 and organic pollution”: nitrates, detergents and phosphates present in urban wastewater.

Another affected ecosystem is Doñana, “a space with pollution problems of chemical origin” due to “intensive agriculture”, which uses water resources to “irrigate highly water-demanding crops” but which are maintained because they are “very lucrative”. like the strawberry.

The secretary general of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Martha Rojas Urrego, took the opportunity to recall that “less than 1% of the planet’s water is fresh and most of it is stored in wetlands”, spaces that “host 40% of species on the planet but disappear three times faster than forests ”.

Wetlands in Ecuador

Since 1991, Ecuador has designated 19 sites as wetlands of international importance: 7 on the Coast, 8 in the Sierra, 3 in the Amazon, and 1 in the Galapagos.

The Cuyabeno-Lagartococha-Yasuní wetland has about 1,500 species of vascular plants (9% of the national total), as well as 1,350 species of vertebrates, 64% of all mammals and 54% of all amphibians in the Ecuadorian Amazon; 200 of amphibians and reptiles, 600 of birds, 167 of mammals of all orders present in Ecuador. Wetlands also house an undetermined number of fish. (I)

Read the coverage from El Universo at https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2021/02/03/nota/9612186/pese-convenio-proteccion-estado-humedales-se-sigue-agravando


Check out our interactive timeline and review new updates, videos, research findings and updates from the Galapagos Islands in 2020

Want to learn more about the foreign distant-water fishing fleet near the outskirts of Ecuador’s Insular EEZ, which surround the Galápagos Marine Reserve?


Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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