The Wonderful World of Wetlands! But what makes them so wonderful?
What are wetlands? They are exactly as they sound, lands that are wet (for significant periods of time).
They are the barrier between land and water, where various levels of water cover the land—salt, fresh, or somewhere in between (brackish)—either seasonally or permanently.
Where do wetlands exist? They cover approximately 6% of the Earth's surface.
Who lives there? They are home to some of the richest variety of living things on Earth including amphibians, birds and insects.
- 7 cool animals and plants found in wetlands: Flamingo, Greater Spotted Eagle, Kaalba Collard Kingfisher, Wadi Racer, Dhofar Toad, Common Reed, and Socotra Cormorant. Learn more about animals and plants in wetlands.
Why are wetlands so important?
- providing freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity
- providing flood control and prevention, and groundwater recharge
- contributing to human well-being, providing goods and services to generate money for people
- mitigating the effects of climate change
A devastating fact: Since 1900, more than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared (64%) as a result of as a result of drainage for agriculture, or conversion for other purposes of development.
See how you can help save the wetlands, the flamingos, kingfishers and the many other animals and plants!
In the UAE, wetlands include coastal areas, wadis, sabkhas, shallow seagrass and coral reefs, mudflats, salt marshes, and mangroves but also numerous artificial lakes, ponds created for recreation, water storage, or sewage plants.
Today, the UAE has 8 Wetlands of International Importance (also known as, Ramsar sites):
- Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Abu Dhabi
- Al-Zora Protected Area, Ajman
- Bul Syayeef, Abu Dhabi
- Jebel Ali Wetland Sanctuary, Dubai
- Mangrove and Alhafeya Protected Area in Khor Kalba, Sharjah
- Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai
- Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area, Sharjah
- Wadi Wurayah National Park, Fujairah,
There is plenty to see and do when visiting wetlands in the UAE – hiking, bird watching, and camping. Their scenic beauty makes them an ideal place to take nature photographs, sketch a piece of artwork, meditate or practice yoga.
Did you know that this astonishing ecosystem is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February, known as, “World Wetlands Day”!