Wetlands are one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Wetlands is an areas of land saturated by water that could be fresh, brackish, or salt, and they make up around 6% of the earth’s surface. However, this percentage decreases due to deforestation and the need for land. These ecosystems have a rich biodiversity, for instance, in Sri Lanka, 30% of inland vertebrates depend on wetlands.
Sri Lanka being a tropical country is blessed with a wide array of wetlands and has three main types according to the Ramsar definition:
- Inland natural freshwater wetlands
- Marine and saltwater wetlands
- Man-made wetlands, such as tanks and reservoirs.
Wetlands are crucial parts of the natural environment and provide many ecosystem services: they act as a filter by absorbing contaminants in runoff, such as fertilizer, and keeping them from entering lakes and rivers as the pollutants are held in place by the roots of wetland plants, which also delay and suspend chemicals that are attached to soil particles. Aside from this, they act as natural flood prevention by storing water during periods of heavy rainfall. Wetlands along the coast, such as mangroves and salt marshes, operate as natural stors, wave, and erosion buffers. They aid with the protection of coastlines from the effects of storms, cyclones, and increasing sea levels, hence protecting coastal residents and infrastructure.
Wetlands also greatly benefit humans through the fishing industry: Two-thirds of all fish that we consume worldwide live at least some of their lives in wetlands. Sri Lanka is unique for using man-made wetlands to provide water for agricultural purposes and domestic use, a practice dating back to 300 BC. Additionally, wetlands are effective carbon sinks, absorbing large volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere. They help to mitigate climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing the global carbon cycle by sequestering carbon. As wetlands are at risk due to deforestation and other human activity, wetland protection is a vital necessity.
These remarkable ecosystems provide numerous ecological, economic, and social benefits. It is imperative to protect these valuable environments and the delicate harmony they provide and take decisive action to safeguard them from future degradation and loss by raising awareness, implementing conservation methods, and supporting sustainable activities.
Awareness program for school environmental pilot team and parents on wetland
Sri Ginarathana Junior school, Kotagaloluwa, Gelioya is in Kandy district, Gelioya Udunuwara Educational Zone, with 2 acres of land. This school’s children are from low-income families. The environment pilot group and parents, the director and 4 officials of the environment authority were participated for this programme. 5 teachers including the principal of the school also participated the programme. After the welcome speech by the school principal, the awareness program was started by the Assistant Director Central Environment authority Kandy.First, the director explained what wetlands are. He mentioned that paddy fields, Kohila, Keera and cultivated lands in the central province are also wetlands.After that, Environment officer Mrs. Ketakumbura explained the importance of protecting wetlands and ways to protect them. Other officials explained the benefits of wetlands to humans and animals and the destruction that can be caused to living things by destroying them. Arecanut plants (Puwak) and fruit plants were given to the school and, marking wetland day, 2 plants were planted on the school land. Everyone appreciated Lanka Jalani and Lions club of Pilimathalawa for raising awareness about the protection of wetlands and the awareness fact wetlands exist not only in the lower countryside. After a school child’s vote of thanks, the program ended and we participated in planting trees.
Awareness program for Development officers at Pathahewaheta AGA office, Thalatuoya on wetland conservation
The programme was held for 81 Development officers at Pahathahewaheta AGA office, Talathuoya , in Kandy district on 6th February. The program was started by the Land Development officer after the welcome speech by Mrs. Kumarihami, The Additional secretary. In the programme the land belonging to the AGA division was discussed and those lands were classified and wetland lands were introduced. The most important incident that happened here was that none of the participants knew that there were wetlands in that area. It was explained that all the lands in the area such as paddy fields, kira kotu, kohila kotu and mud swamps are wetlands. The Development Officers informed that the people of the region will be informed about the wetland in their area and a program will be implemented to protect it. She explained the importance of conserving those wetlands and the responsibility of the Development Officers for that. All the Development Officers gave their comments and the Lions Club and Lanka Jalani Institute were praised for organizing such a program. 80 Mee plants were distributed amoung all participants. The program was concluded after the vote of thanks by the Assistant Director (Development).