There’s a programme on Channel 4 tonight (Monday 3 February 2020) at 8pm that I’m not sure I really want to watch, but I can’t help feeling I should.
I am watching it and there are graphic images and footage, just to warn you.
Australia on Fire: Climate Emergency is the story of the battle to save Australia form the bushfires. It includes first-hand accounts from firefighters on the front line, and looks at the long-term impact of the fires on the animal population and ecology.
Drone footage show the extent of the devastation.
There’s also coverage of those who just escaped their burning properties – and we hear from those who have gone back to properties that are burnt out.
Thank you to all those everywhere who fought the fires and worked so hard and continue to work hard to help the animals in Australia.
Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea
Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea. The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day.
This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetland biodiversity conservation.
Where are wetlands?
Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers. They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet.
"If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.” WWT
Why wetlands matter to people:
They provide us with drinking water
They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
They buffer us from floods and droughts
They are important for our health and wellbeing
Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?
40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.
Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.
So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?
A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.
Our wetlands are threatened by:
Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure. It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African wild dog. In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.
In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.
WWT say that:
Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%
In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands
30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.
However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield. Find out more about their plans for 2020
So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?
WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly. But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down.
Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there. Use your senses while you visit. Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
Volunteer for local wetland charities
Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation
Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site. The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!
RAMSAR – The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help
The lush rainforest runs along the Atlantic coast and inland in southern Brazil. It is home to many species and plants which are not found anywhere else on earth.
The problem for wildlife is....
Sadly, a mere 12% of this huge landscape now persists in very fragmented pockets. Towns, pastures and intensive farming have replaced the rainforest.
Many species living there are threatened with extinction as they are living in small fragmented areas and so are becoming increasingly isolated. These include the black lion tamarin, the jaguar, ocelot and puma.
Durrell wants to protect this ecosystem by creating wildlife corridors to join up the fragmented bits. They will do this by planting trees to connect the Morro do Diabo State Park to isolated forest fragments to the north, thus reconnecting wildlife.
Did you know that the National Trust is helping its partner, the National Trust of Australia, to help Australian wildlife recover after the terrible bushfires in Australia?
A lot of the animals climb trees to escape the flames below - and when they get down again, they get serious burns on their feet. They need treatment and regular bandage changes for months, food and water. And a big challenge facing the hospital and sanctuary is that there is no home for the animals to return to when they are better - it has been destroyed by fire.
As a result of the drought and wildfires, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has experienced about a 20% increase in admissions from in and around the fire zones. They are working to treat, rehabilitate and release wildlife – wildlife who are sick, injured and orphaned.
On Tuesday 21 January 2020, there's a programme on BBC2 at 9pm called "Chris Packham: 7.7 Billion People and Counting".
The UN is predicting that the number of people on this planet could hit 10 BILLION people by 205.
Chris Packham has dedicated his life to championing the natural world. The topic of the growth of the human population and its impact on the planet is all too often overlooked.
Is 10 billion too many people for the earth to sustain? Why is the human population growing so fast? What impact is the human population growth having on the natural world? Can anything be done?
In Brazil, Chris finds a megacity about to run out of water - and an industry expanding to meet growing human numbers.
And he visits Nigeria, which is about to become the third most populated country on earth by 2020. He visits a community surviving against the odds - and a school which might hold the answer in a future fall in the birth rate.
And Chris Packham meets Sir David Attenborough who is also a patron of the charity Population Matters.
He looks at the role of falling birth rates around the world, the impact of angeing pouplation and he meets a couple who are trying to get pregnant through IVF.
Chris also examines the role of falling birth rates around the world, the impact of an aging population, and meets a couple who are struggling to get pregnant through IVF.
And he turns to the impact our levels of conusmption are having. Can the world really accommodate the needs of over 2 billion more people?