Today is World Wetlands Day, a day where we pay tribute to the precious wetlands that play a very crucial role in the ecosystems around the world.
On Ambergris Caye and in much of Belize, our wetlands consist of beautiful lagoon channels and mangroves. Sadly, too often people overlook these wetlands, chopping down the mangroves and replacing them with sea walls or removing and filling in with garbage for human development; actions which can be devastating for the ecosystem.
Why must we protect the wetlands?
Mangrove are Mother Nature's nursery, providing habitat and protection to numerous species of juvenile fish, crabs, sharks, reptiles and migratory birds. The density and complexity of their prop roots prevent long and short term erosion, and are a far better storm barrier than man could ever create, dissipating the energy from stormy waters and providing shelter to wildlife during turbulent times. The roots of the mangrove hold sediment and soil together, trapping and filtering dirty water runoff from land full of pollution and toxins. They are quite literally the only thing standing between us and the reef, preventing unbelievable amounts of pollution killing off this fragile eco system and the livelihood of thousands of people and their families.
Mangrove are incredibly important in the fight against rising carbon levels. A mangrove forest can take up to 10 time more carbon out of the atmosphere than a similar sized terrestrial forest!
Thank you to all those who continue to fight for these wetland habitats by joining in on the many clean ups that are happening around the island. Let's take care of this jewel we've been given!
Happy World Wetlands Day!