The Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) will celebrate National Wetland Day at Ape Gama under the patronage of Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga and Deputy Minister of Environment Ajith Manapperuma.
The ceremony will be held on 1 February to commemorate World Wetland Day which falls on 2 February.
“The focus on protecting wetlands around the world has become important taking into consideration the destruction of wetlands by man. The Convention on Wetlands/RAMSAR Convention was formed in Italy in 1971. The Convention is the inter-Governmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources,” Publicity Officer of the DWLC, Hasini Sarathchandra said.
The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90 per cent of all United Nations Member States, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
“Wetlands are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems. They provide essential services and supply all our fresh water. However, they continue to be degraded and converted to other uses. Sri Lanka is also a member of the RAMSAR Convention. Wetlands declared as RAMSAR sites include the Bundala National Park, the Anawilundawa Sanctuary, the Madu Ganga Sanctuary, the Vankalai Sanctuary, the Kumana National Park, and Wilpattu National Park. On 15 June 1990, the Bundala National Park consisting of 6,210 hectares became the first wetland to be declared as a RAMSAR site in Sri Lanka. All these RAMSAR sites come under the purview of the DWLC,” Sarathchandra explained.
She said that the Anawilundawa sanctuary (1,397 hectares) was declared a RAMSAR site on 30 August 2001, the Madu Ganga sanctuary (915 hectares) on 11 December 2003, the Vankalai sanctuary (4,839 hectares) on 12 July 2010, the Kumana National Park (19,011 hectares) on 29 October 2010 and the Wilpattu National Park (165,800 hectares) on 2 February 2013.
Keeping in mind the importance of wetlands, the Colombo City was declared as a Wetland City by the RAMSAR Convention Secretariat at a Conference held in Dubai recently.
On an application submitted to the RAMSAR Convention Secretariat by the DWLC to obtain the International Wetlands Certification for the Colombo City, approval was granted by the RAMSAR Secretariat. The application was submitted taking into account the number of wetlands in Colombo City, the importance of these wetlands to the environment and on criteria released by the RAMSAR Secretariat.
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