The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA will today, February 2nd celebrate World Wetlands Day, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2nd February 1971. The day is celebrated annually.
A release from the agency says World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organizations and community groups have celebrated the day by undertaking activities to raise public awareness on wetland values and benefits, as well as promote conservation and wise usage of wetlands. Activities include seminars, nature walks, and festivals, announcement of new Ramsar sites, newspaper articles, radio interviews and wetlands rehabilitation.
This year’s international theme for World Wetlands Day is “Wetlands for our future: Sustainable Livelihoods”, whichis selected to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity, specifically their relevance towards achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.
Wetlands play an important role in the processes that keep landscapes healthy and productive. They support industries such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism by supplying water for crops, stock and people, maintaining water quality, providing habitat for commercial species and having cultural and recreational values. They also host a huge variety of lives, protect coastlines, and provide natural defenses against river flooding or storm surges as well as store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change.
Liberia became a part of the Ramsar Convention on 2nd November 2003. As a signatory, Liberia is committed to protecting and sustainably managing wetlands of international relevance and those declared as Ramsar Sites such as Marshall, Mesurado, Gbedin, Lake Piso and Kpatawee Wetlands, respectively.
The EPA, mandated by legislation, is charged with the responsibility to manage and protect the environment, both marine and terrestrial including the protection of wetlands and facilitating several restoration projects in partnerships with civil society groups and relevant government agencies.
In accordance with Sections 74 & 75 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia, the EPA may publish notice, prescribe general or specific guidelines or standards for the management of rivers, lakes, wetlands and parts of the marine and coastal environments of significance. However, the EPA consults with relevant stakeholders and produces guidelines and prescribes measures for the protection of the environment.
Meanwhile, the EPA has organize a one-day program in Gardnersville and Kesselly Boulevard outside Monrovia in collaboration with civil society groups and relevant agencies of government to demonstrate the roles and importance of wetlands in Liberia and create awareness in an effort to promote stakeholders’ participation in protecting and managing the marine and coastal environments.
-Edited by Jonathan Browne