The city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province will host the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) from November 5 to 13. Wetlands are among the world's most productive ecosystems, but their importance is too often ignored.
Three key phrases for wetlands:
A. “Kidneys of the Earth”
Just as forests are called the "lungs of the Earth," wetlands are the "kidneys" that filter pollutants from the water that flows through them. Considering the high capacity of purifying the water, man-made wetlands are constructed to treat raw sewage, capture storm water, and reduce nutrient loads. Wetlands also play critical roles in flood control and water retention.
B. “Stores of carbon”
Wetlands are among the Earth's top carbon stores. Wetland plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and when they die, that carbon doesn't get released back into the atmosphere. Instead, the plant sinks to the bottom of the wetland where it can't fully decompose. Over time, carbon accumulates at the bottom of wetlands and is stored for hundreds of years. A study by the Conservation Fund showed that wetlands store 81-216 metric tons of carbon per acre, depending on their type and location. Of particular note, peatlands cover just 3 percent of the Earth's landmass, but can store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests combined.
C. “Bird sanctuaries”
Migration is one of the biggest events in a bird's life. Across their journey, migratory birds rely on a chain of staging sites where they can feed, rest and shelter from any challenging weather before continuing on their journey. Wetlands are the favored staging sites of many migratory birds.