What is World Wetlands Day?
2 February each year is World Wetlands Day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Theme: Wetlands are a source of freshwater
This year’s theme shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. We are facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish, and we are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – Wetlands.
The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our wellbeing and the health of our planet.
Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance
A key commitment of the Convention on Wetlands’ Contracting Parties is to identify and place suitable wetlands onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar List. Today, there are over 2,400 Ramsar Sites across the world, covering more than 2.5 million square kilometers. We are proud to have two of these sites in South Carolina (Congaree Swamp and Francis Beidler Forest. The Carolina Wetlands Association have recently nominated Pocosin Lakes in North Carolina as a Ramsar Site.
Francis Beidler Forest
Francis Beidler Forest is home to the largest remaining virgin forest of bald cypress and tupelo gum trees in the world. It has thousand-year-old trees and pristine habitat that you can enjoy from a boardwalk. The forest is favored by hundreds of thousands of birds that migrate to South Carolina after wintering in South America. It was recognized as an Important Bird Area in 2001 and designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2008.
To learn more about the Francis Beidler Forest, read our Wetland Treasure fact sheet for the wetland. And to learn about visiting the Francis Beidler Audubon Center and Sanctuary page.
Congaree National Park is a mosaic of freshwater swamp forests, seasonal sloughs, forested peatlands, permanent and seasonal creeks, permanent freshwater lakes, and shrub-dominated wetlands. It contains the largest remaining example of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in North America.
The park supports a variety of species with different conservation statuses under the National Endangered Species Act and contains one of the highest wintering bird densities reported in the United States.