April 1, 2023

What are wetlands? 

Under the text of the Convention (Article 1.1), wetlands are defined as: 

areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”. 

Five major wetland types are generally recognized: 

  • marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs); 
  • estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps); 
  • lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes); 
  • riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams); and 
  • palustrine (meaning “marshy” – marshes, swamps and bogs). 

The Ramsar Convention has adopted a Ramsar Classification of Wetland Type which includes 42 types, grouped into three categories: Marine and Coastal Wetlands, Inland Wetlands, and Human-made Wetlands. 

Why conserve wetlands? 

Wetlands are among the world’s most productive environments. They are cradles of biological diversity, providing the water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. 

Wetlands are also important storehouses of plant genetic material. Rice, for example, which is a common wetland plant, is the staple diet of more than half of humanity. 

These are cultural heritage of humanity: constitute a source of aesthetic inspiration and also provide wildlife sanctuaries.

Check out the List of Wetlands under Ramsar, here.

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