The Ramsar Convention was approved in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. The treaty involving members from all regions of the world took force in 1975. It is the only principle that addresses a specific ecosystem, wetlands. The Convention was formally adopted as The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
Wetlands are at risk because of the manner in which water has been used. People have failed to recognize the benefits of wetlands: water supply, food, flood protection, fiber, water purification and cultural values. Climate change has a large impact on a plethora of wetlands. The building of dams causes the course and ecology of rivers to adversely change. The biodiversity of lakes is endangered by man’s pollution, development, and increased tourist activities. Bogs are jeopardized by industry and conversion to agriculture.
At the heart of Ramsar is the “wise use” model, which is to maintain the ecological character of the wetlands. This is accomplished, for the long term benefit of mankind, by preservation and maintainable use of wetlands and their resources. The treaty also addresses not just isolated wetlands, but the protection of complete river-basins.
3.5 million acres of wetlands were earmarked as Wetlands of Important by August 2006. In addition, many countries have developed National Wetland Policies. Ramsar continues its original work which included the importance of waterfowls to the wetland environments. The birds have strong public appeal and are an enormous ecological gauge for the planets future livelihood. Convention activities are also honed on the future; disaster easement, climate change, development of long-term fisheries, increased economic inducements and support of native cultures.
Water is critical to mankind. Without healthy wetlands, including sustainable biodiversity, the entire world will fall ill. This was recognized in 1971 when countries around the world agreed to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Since that time the Ramsar Convention has worked tirelessly to maintain and improve the waterways of our planet.