It’s time for wetland restoration!
World Wetlands Day is marked every year on 2 February to highlight the vital role of wetlands for the planet. On February 2, 1971, under the auspices of UNESCO, the Ramsar Convention, the international act that regulates wetlands, was signed in the Iranian city of the same name, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. by the UN General Assembly.
The 2023 theme is "Action for People and Nature", a call to action, in the context where natural wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, and action can ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for people and the health of the planet.
Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, hosting a very high biodiversity of species, and freshwater ecosystems hold over 40% of the planet's species and 12% of all animal species.
According to World Wetlands Day, "35% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last 50 years. Also, from 1700 to the present, almost 90% of the world's wetlands have been lost and almost all fresh water sources have been compromised by pollution and pathogens". On a demographic scale, about 2.2 billion people live without safe drinking water, while 4 billion people, roughly half the world's population, currently live in urban areas, which means enormous challenges for urban planners and managers, even heads of state, if we think of countries that know a significant water deficit, usually countries that are located near the Equator (Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Yemen), or further away (Afghanistan, Pakistan).
Bruno Oberle, IUCN’s General Director, ”despite only representing around 7% of our planet’s land surface area, wetland ecosystems are the most efficient carbon sinks on Earth. Restoring them will also save species and bring back ecosystem health. This World Wetlands Day, we must place wetlands at the center of national restoration approaches. Only then can we overcome the twin climate and biodiversity crises”.
Romania acceded to the Ramsar Convention on September 21, 1991, by enrolling the Danube Delta in its list of sites; subsequently 19 other wetlands were included in this treaty.
Transylvania is in the top of this list with 2 protected wetlands:
Poiana Stampei Peat Bog (Tinovul Poiana Stampei).
Considered the largest oligotrophic peat bog in Romania, the site is forested with pine and surrounded by spruce forest, which acts as a buffer zone. It includes several habitat types listed under the EU Habitats Directive and provides a shelter for internationally rare species of fauna and flora. Many invertebrates can be found, and the peat bog also hosts species of endemic algae. Important to mention that some of the plant species, are relict in Romania. The forest components of the site are important for the prevention of floods, especially during spring and rainy periods. The site plays a role in the purification of water and stores considerable amounts of carbon dioxide as the peat grows. It is mainly used for scientific research and educational purposes. The peat bog is included in one of our trekking programs in Transylvania, on Via Transylvanica route.
Dumbravita-Rotbav Fishpond Complex
Being placed in the proximity of Brasov city, where we run several programs, the complex resides in a reservoir and fishponds featuring mudflat, surrounded by fields of crops, meadows, wet grasslands, marsh areas and dense emergent vegetation with reedbeds. The Site supports a rich plant life and provides an important breeding site for over 30 waterbird species and a staging area for more than 100 bird species. Through targeted integrated management, the number of passage species of conservation concern, such as Black Stork and Great White Egret, has increased significantly in recent years. Besides the most abundant species, some species which are rare in Romania can be found here, such as Spoonbil, Glossy Ibis, and Red-breasted Goose. The entire pond system with its highly productive mudflats is largely covered in reedbeds and used for aquaculture. Other uses include recreation, and agriculture including livestock grazing and haymaking which contribute to the annual regeneration of grasslands and marshes and prevent overgrowing.
Another wetland which is not part of Ramsar list is The Ponds from Sânpaul (Protected Nature Reserve): 267 species of birds were observed on the territory of the reserve, a rarity at the European level. During the spring and autumn migration, numerous marsh birds and raptors stop here. The diversity of the habitat offers a nesting place for 63 species of birds: ducks, storks, woodpeckers, larks, and respectively different subspecies of the Yellow Wagtail. The reeds and marshes are important roosting places for many species of birds, which are on the migratory passage. Two observatories are built in the quietest area of the ornithological refuge at Sânpaul, when tourists have the opportunity to photograph many species of birds up close. A few nature programs include this attractive destination, mentioning here the Birwdatching and Bearwatching offer.
Information about Ramsar sites: www.ramsar.org.