Drying Up At An Alarming Rate, Wetlands Critical To Preserving Ecosystems

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) ayeni olusegun | The Peninsula

Qatar joined the rest of the world yesterday to celebrate World Wetlands Day and raise awareness about its significance. Qatar's commitment to its environment remains a crucial part of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Strategy for the Environment and Climate Change which aims to enhance efforts to conserve, restore and protect biodiversity for healthy and resilient natural ecosystems.

In a tweet, the Ministry said,“Wetlands are vital to humans and nature due to their role in preserving ecosystems that benefit all living organisms and contribute to their survival.”

This year's global theme,“It's Time for Wetlands Restoration,” comes at an ideal time to increase people's understanding of these critically important ecosystems. In the last five years, 35% of the world's wetlands have disappeared.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), nearly 90% of the world's wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and“we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.”

“Wetlands are critical, an important ecosystem that contributes to biodiversity, climate mitigation, adaptation, freshwater availability, mangroves, etc.,” the Executive Director of Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCMQ), Neesahd Shafi, told The Peninsula.

Wetlands in Qatar include Al Dhakira Mangrove, Al Aliyah Island, and Khor al Udeid; they have also come under severe pressure in Qatar.

During dry seasons in arid regions, wetlands provide refuge for wildlife and supply water for communities and stock.

Restoration and protection of wetlands to thrive in Qatar will help in multiple ways, including reviving biodiversity, improving water supply, storing carbon, reducing extreme weather, and boosting eco-tourism.

Sebkhas, mudflats, mangroves, and wadis are the dominant wetlands in the arid regions of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Coastal wetlands such as mangroves sequester carbon up to 55 times faster than tropical rainforests.

“Wetlands are at the moment threatened globally. We are on the verge of great loss to our environment. Keeping this in mind, AYCMQ has been working with geoscientists on the 'Ambassadors of Environment Program.' This year, we will be working on marine ecology, the ecosystem, and marine mammals and mangroves,” Shafi disclosed.

According to Shafi, the MOECC has been critically looking after wetlands to ensure they are protected and safeguarded from“illegal use or encroachment,” in line with the Ministry's environmental guidelines.

“We, as a climate movement, wanted to build community awareness around wetlands, our mangroves, and our marine ecology ecosystem. So, through our programme, we will try to build that capacity of our young people here in Qatar,” he added.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain, are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change given their geographical location in the Arabian Desert. Despite being the driest area in the world, the MENA region is home to diverse terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems - deserts, steppes, mountains, broadleaf and coniferous forests, wetlands, coral reefs and mangroves. However, the rich biodiversity has come under pressure from unsustainable human activities, including habitat loss, urbanization, industrial development and dam construction; overexploitation of water, plant and animal resources; and pollution.


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