World Wetlands Day – February 2-Visit to Curieuse’s wetlands ecosystem


06-February-2012

Restoration of the Roche Caïman wetland, a potential area for coastal tourism

This year, the theme of World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetland Tourism, A Great Experience’.
To mark the occasion in Seychelles, the wetlands unit within the environment department led a group of students and workers from Mahe, Praslin and La Digue to appreciate the wetlands ecosystem of the Curieuse national park.

The group walked through the island’s mangrove areas just after a short address about ‘wetland’s tourism’ by environment principal secretary Didier Dogley. This was followed by presentation of certificates of appreciation to some hotels.

On Mahe, a young Wildlife Club member, who has been very active in wetlands education and conservation activities in the community and networked with the Mangroves For the Future (MFF) Seychelles office, compiled a presentation about the importance of wetland ecosystems which he told hotel guests and staff of at the Constance Ephelia resort on Thursday night.

Zooming in on the value of responsible tourism in and around wetlands is a way of increasing awareness on the importance of maintaining the health of wetlands – both for communities who depend on them and also for visitors who enjoy them.

Wetlands and their wildlife are a key part of the global tourism experience. The expenditure from visiting tourists to wetlands can be estimated at around US $925 billion each year.

“Wetlands, such as mangroves, peat forests and freshwater swamps, are home to a wealth of biodiversity. Wetlands fulfill vital roles in carbon storage, pollution control and protection from natural hazards such as floods and storms. Millions of people around the world rely on wetlands for livelihoods as wetlands provide many system services, such as food, fresh water and fuel,” says Mark Smith, director global water programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

For example, the Niger delta hosts about 20% of the population in Mali and generates on average 90,000 tonnes of fish catch per year. The lower Mekong delta supports the world's most productive inland fisheries valued at around US $3 billion caught each year. These inland fisheries provide 56 million people with up to 80% of their animal protein intake.

The IUCN is increasingly promoting the idea of ‘nature-based solutions’ as part of strategies for tackling the big issues the world faces. Undoubtedly, wetlands are part of the ‘nature-based solutions’ for water supply and sanitation, for food security, climate change adaptation, for a green economy.

“Wetlands tourism though reminds us that people also rely on them for renewal, relaxation and adventure. This reflects the fact that we humans are a wetland species. Many great civilisations have evolved along rivers. It makes sense that we go back to wetlands “to get away from it all”, said Dr Smith.

On the occasion of this year’s World Wetlands Day, a special celebration took place in the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva. US ambassador Betty E. King welcomed the IUCN deputy director-general Poul Engberg-Pedersen along with Botswana ambassador Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai, and Ramsar deputy director-general Nick Davidson, for presentations and a panel discussion on the role of wetlands’ tourism.

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