Wetlands of International Importance

“Wise use has at its heart the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind.” (Ramsar)

The Wetlands Project is a member of the United States National Ramsar Committee (USNRC).  USNCR works to admit more wetlands sites to the prestigious list of “Wetlands of International Importance”. There are 38 Ramsar sites in the U.S. All U.S. applications are processed through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For more information about gaining designation for a specific site, please contact The Wetlands Project.

Global wetlands treaty

Once regarded as wastelands, wetlands are now recognized as important features of the landscape, providing some of the most productive eco-services on our planet. Wetlands exist in every country and climatic zone on every continent except Antarctica.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, commonly called the Ramsar Convention, is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The Ramsar Convention provides a framework for local and national participation, as well as international cooperation for the conservation and “wise use” of wetlands and their resources.

The member countries commit to implement the “three pillars” of the Ramsar Convention:

1.Designate suitable wetlands for the List of Wetlands of International Importance

2. Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands through national land-use planning and management,  policies and legislation, and public education

3. Cooperate internationally concerning trans-boundary wetland systems, shared species and development projects that may affect wetlands.

There are 169 member countries and 2245 Wetlands of International Importance covering most geographic regions of the planet.

World Wetlands Day – February 2

World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually to mark the February 2, 1971 signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in the city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year governments and community groups across the world celebrate World Wetlands Day by organizing events that raise public awareness for the importance of wetlands conservation.

Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction is an excellent theme for World Wetlands Day, 2017. While there are many natural hazards such as hurricanes, flooding and drought … “a disaster is the severe disruption that is caused to a community or nation in human, material, economic or environmental losses” (Ramsar) as a result of a natural hazard. In coastal areas, wetlands provide a natural buffers to minimize storm damage and act as natural sponges by absorbing and storing flood waters.  What can you and your community do to help wetlands help us?

  • Find out how wetlands protect your area.
  • Encourage local government to include wetlands in strategies for coping with disasters.
  • Participate in activities to conserve and restore wetlands.

Read more about World Wetlands Day 2017.

Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods was the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2016. This theme was chosen to demonstrates the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and the role of wetlands in achieving the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Read more about 2016 World Wetlands Day events. 

Wetlands for Our Future, was the 2015 theme for World Wetlands Day. A wetlands photographic challenge for youth will highlight the importance of preserving wetlands for future generations.  “Wetlands for Our Future” materials are available for download from the World Wetlands Day website. Contact The Wetlands Project with your World Wetlands Day celebration ideas!

Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth, was the 2014 theme for World Wetlands Day 2014. This timely theme placed the focus directly on the need for the wetland, water and agricultural sectors to work together. Visit the Ramsar website to read about the more than 800 activities for over 100,000 participants worldwide.