Today is 2 February which means that it is World Wetlands Day. Wetlands are land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally. Inland wetlands include marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains, and swamps. Coastal wetlands include saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and even coral reefs. The Broads National Park is a wetland of international importance and so it seemed only fitting to celebrate a few of the things which we love the most about the very special wetland on our back door step…
It’s no surprise that the Broads is home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest wildlife, with all of that amazing freshwater habitat there is no place better for all manner of fish and invertebrates, birds and mammals to thrive. Here in the Broads, marsh harriers have become a regular sight despite their national rarity, the same can be said of all sorts of other animals such as water voles and even Chinese water deer which have become rare in their country of origin, China, but thrive in the National Park.
The Broads have been a wetland habitat for a very long time and as such human history has developed beside this useful watery resource. The heritage mills tell the tales of the way humans have tried to harness the flooded landscape for their own purposes and the stately wherries tell of a time when the waters were essential for trade. Human stories and the history of East Anglia are inextricably linked to the Broads.
Wetlands have a fundamental role to play to reduce the extent of global warming. This is because wetland habitats trap and absorb carbon while drained wetlands release it. 35% of the world’s wetlands have been drained since 1970, making now an important time to actively stand up for global wetland habitats. Peatlands cover about 3% of our planet’s land and store approximately 30% of all landbased carbon–twice the amount than all the world’s forests combined. Wetlands are the most effective carbon stores on Earth. When you consider that the Broads are abandoned peat diggings you begin to realise just how fundamental their good management is in the fight against climate change.
There are loads of sustainable ways to enjoy the Broads wetland habitats. Stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking are all minimum impact ways of enjoying the area without polluting it. There are also all sorts of other ways you can make the most of the wetland, from getting inspired and painting it to capturing it forever on camera. There are some wonderful riverside walks, cycle paths and bridleways so there has never been an easier time to go outside and discover.
Wetlands are fundamental habitats across the world and today we’re celebrating just how important our local Broads habitat is to us. So make sure that you get outside and spread the word about how important this magical wetland habitat is for wildlife, history, climate change and humankind alike. Happy World Wetlands Day!