The Year for Wetlands - 2021 kicks off on World Wetlands Day in the Amur-Heilong River Basin
50 years ago, on February 2, 1971, the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of Wetlands of International Importance was signed. Currently, 171 states are acting parties to the convention with the total number of 2414 wetlands of international importance. In Russia, 35 territories have this status. However, the work on establishing new Ramsar sites or enlarging the area of existing sites lacks the nationally approved mechanism for this process.
Therefore, WWF Russia’s main task within the Year for Wetlands will be the adoption of the national level procedure for establishing wetlands of international importance in Russia.
In the Russian part of the Amur basin, 6 territories have the status of wetlands of international importance. These are Torey Lakes in Zabaikalsky province, Zeya-Bureya Plains and the Khingano-Arkharinskaya Lowland in Amurskaya province, Lake Bolon and Lake Udyl in Khabarovsky province and Lake Khanka in Primorsky province. All these Ramsar Sites are located within the boundaries of protected areas of federal and regional importance.
In the Year for Wetlands, an inventory of the Ramsar sites in the whole Amur-Heilong ecoregion is planned, as well as the assessment of the existing threats, and development of management plans for these territories. The work on research and conservation of rare bird species inhabiting wetlands, primarily cranes and storks, will be continued.
Despite the global importance of wetlands in preserving biodiversity and maintaining the stability of the planet's climate, the role of wetlands in social creation is largely underestimated. Many people habitually consider these territories to be of little use and try in every possible way to “conquer” them - to drain, reduce and adapt to economic needs, which inevitably leads to the degradation and destruction of ecosystems. Therefore, the answer to the question - Why are wetlands needed? - in the Year for Wetlands is one of the key ones. And in search of an answer to it, each person will make many exciting discoveries.
On February 2, WWF-Russia opens a special page on the AmurInfoCenter ecoregional web portal https://amurinfocenter.org/ . An international contest of children paintings “Wetlands for Life” is launched, a photo exhibition “Wetlands of the Amur Basin - Guardians of life” is displayed there. Zhora the crane, who last year posted on Instagram about the life of cranes in the Amur basin, this year will raise the issues of preserving the habitats of its feathered relatives and neighbors - swamps, rivers and lakes.
WWF’s partner organizations - nature reserves and national parks, public environmental organizations, student nature protection brigades, plan to organize dozens of events in the Year for Wetlands: photo exhibitions and presentations, talks and lectures, game programs, contests, quests and quizzes.
Particular attention within the Amur basin provinces will be given to involving people in practical activities to protect wetlands from existing threats, to identify violations of environmental legislation, prevent fires, and protect rare species. Indeed, it is the participation of local people that is the key to successful solving environmental problems. One of the components of this work will be the campaign “Amur Ambassadors”, the activities of student nature protection brigades that will study the wetlands, identify threats to these territories and educate the population.
All materials of the Year for Wetlands – 2021 are placed on the AmurInfoCenter web portal of the Amur Ecoregion: https://amurinfocenter.org/