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World Wetlands Day: let's act for humanity and nature!
"Acting for wetlands is acting for humanity and nature" is the theme of this year's celebration of World Wetlands Day 2022, which has been held every February 2 for the past 25 years.
WHY ARE WETLANDS IMPORTANT?Wetlands are areas of marshes, fens, peat bogs, natural or artificial waters, permanent or temporary, where the water is stagnant or running, fresh, brackish or salt. In Madagascar, wetlands and continental waters cover an area of 5,339 km². They are made up of rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, swamps but also lagoons, estuaries, mangroves and marine environments not exceeding 6 m in depth.
These wetlands provide multiple goods and services. The fishing sector occupies an important place in the Malagasy economy. With 5,600 km of coastline, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1,140,000 km², 117,000 km² of continental shelf, 52,000 ha of mangroves, 1,500 km² of lakes and lagoons.
The fishing potential is estimated at 200,000 t for all marine and continental fishing (MPEB, October 2021). However, they also support various sectors of activity including agriculture, crafts, industry, transport, tourism, energy, water and sanitation.
As for mangroves, by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it for centuries, they provide an annual income estimated at 45 million dollars. They are abundant and generate honey and silk, as well as income from crab and shrimp farming (which together account for $40 million a year). (ROOTS OF HOPE, The Socio-Economic Value of Mangroves in the Western Indian Ocean Region - Save Our Mangroves Now!)
Furthermore, healthy wetlands have a role in storing rainwater during the rainy season and making it available during the dry season. They therefore contribute to the fight against climatic hazards such as flooding and drought. Recently, we have experienced a situation of chaos due to rising waters after the passage of tropical storm Ana. The extensive degradation of ecosystems downstream of the wetlands is caused by bushfires, land clearing, drainage and other man-made pressures. Also pointed out is the inefficiency of sanitation strategies and climate change leading to destructive floods.
A national strategy for the sustainable management of wetlands underwayThe Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, together with other state and non-state actors/civil society, and the private sector, are currently finalizing the national strategy for sustainable wetland management, supported by PIOPAMA SA 44 and implemented by Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Madagascar. The call is made to strengthen joint actions between stakeholders in favor of wetlands as providers of important services to people and nature, including biodiversity conservation.
Given the specific importance of mangroves, one of the categories of coastal wetlands, another national integrated strategy is also being developed, under the leadership of the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy.
Harison ANDRIAMBELO - Country Director (NGO Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust)
The Convention on Wetlands known as the "Ramsar Convention" is an intergovernmental treaty that was adopted on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
Madagascar and the Ramsar Convention
It came into force in 1975 and its mission is "the conservation and wise use of wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to achieving sustainable development throughout the world".
On September 25, 1998, Madagascar became the 113th Contracting Party to the Convention on Wetlands. The treaty entered into force on January 25, 1999. So far, we have designated 21 sites on the list of Wetlands of International Importance commonly known as Ramsar Sites.
February 02 of each year has been chosen for the celebration of the World Wetlands Day. This year, the celebration will focus on the theme: "Miahy faritra mando: miahy ny olombelona sy ny zavaboahary; tsy totorana fa miantoka ny fahampian-dranon'ny mponina, tsy simbaina fa miantoka ny fahavelomana.
In addition, Madagascar will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention this same year to improve and strengthen the understanding that wetlands are a major habitat present on the whole planet, which can take many forms and make life on Earth possible.
Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development