It is World Wetlands Day today – and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is encouraging people to visit one of Scotland’s beautiful wetland sites.
There are many types of wetlands in Scotland, including lochs, rivers, marshes, fens, reed beds, flushes, swamps and peatlands. In short, a wetland is an area of land that is saturated with water, whether year-round or seasonally.
World Wetlands Day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The Ramsar designation helps to ensure the ecology of each site is protected. The theme for this year is “climate change”.
Great examples of wetlands can be seen on many National Nature Reserves (NNRs) including Insh Marshes NNR near Kingussie. This reserve helps manage floods and is one of Europe’s most important wetlands, with breeding waders including curlew, lapwing, redshank and snipe.
Additionally Loch Leven NNR near Kinross, is one of Great Britain’s most important Ramsar sites, with international populations of wintering wildfowl, whooper swans, tufted ducks and coots to name but a few.
Other great sites to see wetlands include:
- Flanders Moss NNR
- Blawhorn Moss NNR
- Muir of Dinnet NNR
- Moine Mhor NNR
- Forsinard Flows NNR
- Caerlaverock NNR.
These special habitats also provide clean water; help to moderate floods; prevent coastal erosion; and improve air quality.
Scotland’s peatlands – which cover about 20% of Scotland – are also important wetlands. They hold over half of the terrestrial carbon store and are vital to tackling climate change.
Peatland ACTION managed by SNH – on behalf of Scottish Government – is restoring thousands of hectares of drained or damaged peat-forming habitat to ensure the bog remains a long-term carbon sink.
Andrew McBride, SNH’s Peatland ACTION Project Manager, said: “Peatlands are closer than we think; literally on our doorsteps, even in cities.
“There’s a peatland within five miles of us all.
“Peatland ACTION are working closely with land managers, awarding funding for restoration work.
“Peatlands have so much to offer when in a good condition. They are wild spaces where nature and people can thrive. Crucially peatlands have an important role in fighting climate change – but in order to do so we need to ensure they remain wet”.
Deborah Spray, SNH Wetland Ecology Advisory Officer, said: “Globally there has been a loss of 35 per cent of wetland habitats since 1970 and it is important we do everything we can to protect them. They are such special places, and well worth a visit.”