The world’s wetlands are the arteries and veins of our planet. Through wetlands and the water cycle we are all connected. We sometimes imagine that water is a “free” resource. Something that we will always have. We don’t consider often what would happen if our water supply was contaminated or lost – how we would feed ourselves if water wasn’t available to irrigate farms. We don’t often consider how much we’ve already crippled this precious life supporting system. We dump toxins, medication, animal waste, human waste, and loads upon loads of trash and garbage into our wetland systems. We fill wetlands to farm marginal land, or build subdivisions. We are constantly hardening the ground, so that groundwater doesn’t have a chance to seep into the earth and recharge the ground water storage that many of us use to supply our drinking water. We divert huge quantities of water for industry and commercial agriculture, in the process “starving” areas and communities down stream.
Millions of people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. This is not because we don’t have enough water in our ecological system to support those people, its because we abuse and mismanage our water systems. On a global scale we fail to acknowledge the value, complexity and interconnection of our water systems. We have a responsibility to maintain and restore the balance and health of our wetland systems, so that future generations of biological life can live here in the natural abundance we inherited.
On World Wetlands Day we should accept the state of our wetlands, and also assess how our human systems are impacting them. We need to replace harmful impacts with systems that support and ensure the ecological health of our waters and wetlands.
What can you do today to help improve our wetlands? We can all do something. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could look back on every February 2nd in the future and say that our world’s wetland systems are improving, getting healthier, becoming more alive?
1. Clean up a beach or stream
2. Reduce the use of phosphates and chemicals in your home
3. Report illegal dumping by calling Cape Breton’s Recycling Hotline 1-877-567-1337
4. Help restore local streams (Contact ACAP Cape Breton to get involved this spring)
5. Donate – earmark your donation with “wetland” and we’ll put your donation towards protecting a local wetland, or if you own a wetland in the Bras d’Or watershed, consider placing a protected conservation covenant on the wetland.
Finally, go out and enjoy a wetland near you. Get to know it, become its steward, look out for it. That would be awesome.