World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2012
World Wetlands Day is an annual event that commemorates the signing of the
Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian City of Ramsar. Each
year, the celebration focuses on a different theme to highlight different
challenges affecting wellbeing of the environment.
The theme for 2012 Wetlands Day is “Wetlands and Tourism. In South Africa (SA),
the theme was localised by adding a slogan “Enhancing Community Livelihoods”
because of linkages between wetlands conservation and tourism.
This year’s event was celebrated in Limpopo. The day started with a visit to the
Mapimbi and Rietbuck vlei wetlands in the northern part of Kruger National Park
known as the Pafuri Triangle. The area lies between Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers.
Makuleke Wetlands were declared a Ramsar site in June 2007 and is the first
Ramsar site owned and co-managed by the community, not only in SA but
world-wide. After a successful land claim, the Makuleke Community Property
Association and SANParks established a joint management board to manage the
community’s ecotourism business ventures which created 88 jobs for community
2012 World Wetlands Day celebration was organised by the Department of
Environmental Affairs in partnership with the Departments of Water Affairs,
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as Water Research Commission and
South African National Biodiversity Institute (Working for Wetlands). The
purpose of this Day is to recognise the values and benefits the public and the
economy derive from wetlands.
This year’s focus was on the inter-linkages between wetlands and forests and the
government’s role in the mitigation of climate change. This also helped in
heighten public awareness towards ensuring collective efforts in the protection
of forests and wetlands in the fight against climate change.