Celebrating wetlands

Jan 29, 2014

THIS Sunday, February 2 will be recognised as World Wetlands Day -- the campaign day of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, more commonly called the Ramsar Convention.

Jamaica became a signatory to the intergovernmental treaty in 1998, pledging to maintain the ecological character of its Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the "wise use", or sustainable use, of its wetlands.

There are four such designated areas in the island: Black River Lower Morass in St Elizabeth; Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site in Clarendon and St Ann; the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area in Kingston; and Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays in St Catherine and Clarendon. Together, they cover an area of 37, 847 hectares.

The Convention says "wetlands should be selected for the list on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology" and should be "of significant value not only for the country, or the countries, in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole".

"Joining the Convention," the Ramsar website explains, "signals a commitment on the part of the national government to work actively to support the three pillars of the Convention: 1) ensuring the conservation and wise use of wetlands it has designated as Wetlands of International Importance, 2) including as far as possible the wise use of all wetlands in national environmental planning, and 3) consulting with other Parties about implementation of the Convention, especially in regard to transboundary wetlands, shared water systems, and shared species."

Read more about it here