What is World Wetlands Day?
World Wetlands Day is an environment-related celebration that raises awareness of the importance of wetlands and the threats that face this particular biome. According to The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust , over a third of the worlds' wetlands have disappeared since 1970 and it is because of alarming figures like these, this day began. It is celebrated on February 2nd and marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (which came into force in December 1975).
Why did World Wetlands Day begin?
Wetlands are crucially important ecosystems that contribute to freshwater availability, biodiversity, and climate mitigation, hence why they are more important than many think. Even before the 1970s, when WWD was first established, many people were aware of the rising issue and often attended meetings or festivals to discuss this. 83% of freshwater species are now in decline worldwide and 86% of rivers in the UK don’t meet good ecological status.  A large percentage of the worlds’ species are somewhat reliant on wetlands and as such, the loss of these biomes is forcing many species to the brink of extinction. Figures like these, lead to the creation of this national day.
What are the main threats to wetlands?
Unsustainable development: With the rapidly increasing world population, there is an escalating need for housing and industry builds. Over the last 300 years, more than 85% of the worlds’ wetlands have been drained to provide thousands of hectares of land for properties and industries to build on.
Pollution: Did you know that approximately 80% of the global wastewater is released into wetlands untreated? This means that over time there is a huge build-up of waste in these particular biomes, which only contributes to the overall worlds’ pollution levels. Factories, pesticides, fertilisers, and major spills pose serious threats to wetlands, which are forever escalating. As well as being threatened by pollution, wetlands also hold a vital role in addressing it. Wetlands act as natural filters, helping to remove pollutant materials like metals and plastics, even assisting in eliminating up to 90% of nitrogen.
Invasive species: Even though most foreign species are not harmful or impactful to native species, some can be extremely damaging. Invasive species have dramatic effects on the native biodiversity, as the spread of disease or the outcompeting will cause the native species to fall. Wetland wildlife is especially venerable to foreign species due to the water providing accessible pathways for them to spread and grow.
Climate Change: By now, we are all aware of the ongoing escalating issue of climate change, but what many do not know is how wetlands can add to the solution. Similar to forests, wetlands are great methods of reducing the carbon in the atmosphere and due to the biome characteristics, they can actually absorb carbon through photosynthesis. In contrast, when these areas are destroyed, they can release the nasty greenhouse gases back into our atmosphere. Another threat to wetlands that climate change poses is temperature changes. With the change in rainfall and temperatures, there is a possibility that wetlands will dry out, thus having an immediate negative effect on species like amphibians, birds, and corals.
Where can you see Wetlands around the world?
According to the World Wildlife website, there are more than 2,000 wetlands in the world, most predominately in countries like Canada, Botswana, Russia, Peru, and Brazil, the largest being The Pantanal situated in the heart of South America. If you wish to find out more about the worlds’ most predominant wetlands, click here. 
What can you do to help? - How to preserve Wetland areas?
To combat this rising issue, here are a few simple things you can do to help preserve our Wetlands.
1. Household Plants: Even something as small as a houseplant can help our wetlands immensely. Limiting the use of chemicals, such as fertilisers, pesticides, and fungicides, will help the number of chemicals leaching into groundwater, which would subsequently be seen in the wetlands. So, why not try and use organic recipes instead?
- Pets and Pests: Our furry friends can actually be quite destructive. Cats are known to prey upon native wetland species, such as frogs and even lizards. Rabbits can cause havoc when binging on native plants and seedlings. When living next to a wetland biome, it is advised to keep pets under supervision, to ensure the wetland ecology is safe and able to flourish.
3. Waste and Recycling: Ensuring that you are doing your best to dispose of your waste will go a long way in protecting our wetlands. Reducing plastic usage, whether it is plastic water bottles, disposable containers or even plastic cutlery will make a massive difference in the amount of waste that ends up in our beautiful wetlands. Another thing you could do is make your own compost! Instead of throwing away much of your waste, why not put it to use and help the planet in the process?
- Reduce Pollution: There are many things you can do to reduce pollution, much of such you can do at home. Start purchasing organically and try and become more conscious of your choices. Every little counts!
Wetland Vegetation: Healthy vegetation is crucial for sustaining life in the wetlands and they have evolved to thrive in varying conditions of dampness and wetness. The main way you can help in the conservation and rehabilitation efforts is by planting native flora and contributing to the creation of wetland habitats- or even attending local science projects and forums.
- Helping Wetland Wildlife: Often, some of the wetland wildlife such as snakes, turtles, or bobtails are known to venture out of their local habitat. Accidents are common and unfortunately, animals sometimes do get run over or entangle themselves in plastic debris. So, if you do see an animal in need, make sure you reach out to the closest vets or help the animal in any way necessary.
- Participate in any way you can: Perhaps most importantly - Why not see what organisations you have in your local area? There are plenty of educational programs, projects, and communities out there, all aiming to restore and preserve these vulnerable biomes. Get involved now! 
 Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - Available Here: https://www.wwt.org.uk/our-work/threats-to-wetlands/ - https://www.awe.gov.au/water/wetlands/world-wetlands-day
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - Available Here: https://www.wwt.org.uk/our-work/threats-to-wetlands/
 Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - Available Here: https://www.wwt.org.uk/our-work/threats-to-wetlands/
 World Wildlife Website - Available Here: https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-is-a-wetland-and-8-other-wetland-facts
 The Wetland Centre- Available Here: https://www.thewetlandscentre.org.au/blog/things-to-do-to-help-wetlands/