Wetlands

UNESCO and Ramsar join efforts to preserve important sites

Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. ('Ramsar' definition )

This web resource, launched on World Wetlands Day 2001 by UNESCO and Ramsar, focuses on wetland sites of significant value. These wetlands share international recognition as biosphere reserves or world heritage sites (under the auspices of UNESCO), and as Wetlands of International Importance (under the Ramsar Convention). Wetlands provide important services to human societies, including water supply, sanitation, flood control and food resources clean water and medicines. All over the world, management of water - the key component of wetlands - is an issue of crucial importance which affects the daily lives of millions of people.

At the same time, many wetlands are under threat from a variety of man-induced impacts and technological developments such as hydraulic works, tourism installations and leisure activities, pollution and other forms of human intervention. Over 50% of the world's wetlands have been destroyed over the past 100 years and only 10% of the remaining wetlands are protected. It is feared that flood-related disasters and water shortages will increase in 60 countries by the year 2050 unless the remaining wetlands are preserved.

Preserving remarkable sites

The Convention on Wetlands was signed in Ramsar, Iran, 1971. Since then, UNESCO-MAB and the Ramsar Bureau have been partners. Synergistic efforts to preserve wetlands concern in particular a network of common sites of interest:

  • Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.
  • Ramsar Wetlands are sites inscribed on the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the "Ramsar List") under the Convention on Wetlands (signed in Ramsar, Iran, 1971).

Among the most remarkable protected wetlands we find:

Some exceptional wetlands are also protected through their inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Related links:

  • Polesie project on wetlands
  • Joint UNESCO-RAMSAR wetlands sites
  • Complete list of wetlands recognized as biosphere reserves (under the auspices of UNESCO), and as Wetlands of International Importance (under the Ramsar Convention).
  • Ramsar website
Back to top