Care2.com have a petition about an enormous oil refinery on St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
It has laid dormant for nearly years – it was forced to shut down after committing dangerous environmental breaches.
Donald Trump re-opened it in his last weeks of office - his full plan went into effect on 4 February 2021.
Three days later, Care2.com say the sky rained oil.
A vapour cloud released by the refinery went up into the air, glided to the community of Clifton Hill which is nearby, filled homes, gardens and toys – and then it burst, a mixture of petroleum and water covering cars, toys, and more with oil.
This was over two months ago.
Residents say the oil is still stuck to food sources such as avocado and fruit. It cannot be washed out.
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 Water”.
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
Tristan da Cunha is a remote island chain in the South Pacific. It’s 2,400 kilometres from the nearest land!
And Birdlife International report that Tristan da Cunha has been declared a Marine Protection Zone, one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries and a pristine wildlife haven.
The MPA is nearly three times the size of the UK. MILLIONS of seabirds, fish and mammals Penguins and seals, threatened sharks and whales will all benefit. 25 seabird species breed here, four of which are unique to the islands and which are also globally threatened. It includes the World Heritage Site of Gough Island which is a renowned albatross stronghold, and, it could be argued, one of the most important seabird islands in the world
The MPA has been established thanks to international collaboration between governments, NGOs and local islanders. The whole thing was instigated by the Tristan de Cunha government and the RSPB.
The Tristan islanders themselves led the way however, as nature guardians in the Atlantic Ocean. They have already declared protected status for over half their territory, and they know that the sea is critical for their long term survival. They are proud to play a key role in protecting the health of the oceans.
Recently, a study found that banned fishing in 5% or more of the ocean would increase global catches by 20% plus in future. And of course this newly protected MPA ties into the wider global goal to secure protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 to tackle climate change and the biodiversity crisis.