Why are wetlands so rich in biodiversity

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Why is there World Wetlands Day?

On February 2, 1971, 18 states signed the Convention for the Protection of Wetlands of International Importance in the Iranian city of Ramsar. It is the oldest international agreement for the conservation of natural resources. Because of the location, it is also called the "Ramsar Convention".

Originally, the contracting states set themselves the goal of preserving wetlands as a habitat for water birds. In the meantime, wetlands are generally considered to be important ecosystems that require special protection to maintain biodiversity. International Wetlands Day on February 2, marking the anniversary of the "Ramsar Convention", draws attention to the important role that wet meadows, moors and swamps play in nature. Germany joined the "Ramsar Convention" in 1976. Today, 171 signatory states around the world are committed to protecting wetlands.

Which areas are particularly protected in Germany?

The Rosenheim trunk basin bogs in Bavaria were named the 35th protected area in Germany on today's World Wetlands Day. Overall, the "wetlands of international importance" in Germany extend over an area of ​​more than 868,000 hectares. More than 80 percent of these are tidal flats and water areas in the North and Baltic Seas.

Many species of migratory birds such as the pygmy swan, the common bean goose or the long-tailed duck overwinter in the German "Ramsar areas", which are of international importance for the preservation of biological diversity. Endangered and endangered species of fish, such as the huchen or the Ammersee-Kilch, also live there.

The contracting states of the "Ramsar Convention" have undertaken to promote and secure at least one wetland area within their territory as a "wetland of international importance".

Why is wetland conservation important?

Intact swamps and bogs are valuable habitats for many plant and animal species. Various groups of species such as insects and birds benefit from them. Upland and fens, for example, are a retreat for the short-eared owl and the curlew.

In addition, wetlands are also important for climate protection. Moors are long-term storage for carbon. If they are drained, for example for agricultural or forestry use, this carbon is released into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases. More than 90 percent of the peatland areas in Germany are considered drained. They make up around four percent of the federal territory, but cause around 45 million tons of CO2 - that is more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. That harms the climate. It is therefore important to preserve the peatland and to cultivate it sustainably.

What is the federal government doing to protect moors?

As part of the 2030 climate protection program, the federal government has decided to strengthen peatland protection and reduce the use of peat. The Federal Environment Ministry wants to test various concepts in pilot projects as to how rewetted peatland can be managed in the long term. The release of greenhouse gases from the bog soil can only be stopped if the water levels in the drained bogs rise again. At the same time, the management should make economic sense. One solution could be the increased cultivation of crops such as reeds, alders or grasses that are suitable for wet cultivation.

The Federal Environment Ministry has prepared a discussion paper on the basis of which the federal government's peatland protection strategy is to be developed.