JIS News

The Natural History Division (NHD) of the Institute of Jamaica, as part of its continued drive to raise public awareness of the value of wetlands, will commemorate World Wetlands Day (February 2), with a week of activities during the period, February 2 to 6, under the theme, ‘Upstream – Downstream: Wetlands connect us all’.
These activities will include an exhibition and a lecture on February 2, at the Kellits Branch Library, in Clarendon, and tours of the Mason River Protected Area, also in Clarendon, on February 6.
Botanist at the NHD, Keron Campbell, told JIS News that these activities would help them to impress upon Jamaicans that, “wetlands are very important to our ecosystem and that while we might think that they are just a nuisance, because of the mosquito issue…they help to keep water clean, they are a valuable habitat for wildlife, they help to reduce flooding, they help to treat waste water, they replenish ground water, and they are nurseries for a lot of the food that we eat – fishes and all of those aquatic fauna that we eat.”
He also stressed that if Jamaicans do not protect and preserve wetlands and other aspects of the country’s natural history and environment, then the country’s history and culture would be diminished.
Using a film-making analogy, he said that, “if you have actors acting in front of a blue screen, you definitely will not get the same effect as if you had the actors going through different scenes in different localities, areas and places, so our history and culture would be similar to that.they would be very bland if there was no natural history behind it.”
“The flora, the fauna, the rocks, the hills, the waters, all of that form the backdrop for history and culture to occur, or basically for it to be expressed. If you don’t respect and preserve the natural history, the history and the culture itself will also diminish,” he added.
Wetlands are lands saturated by water all year round. These include swamps, marshes and bogs. This year’s theme focusses on the management of rivers, showing the interconnectedness of humans with their environment.
The intention is to demonstrate how daily activities directly impact rivers, which may consequently cause major problems in wetlands, such as a decrease in the biodiversity present, as well as environmental degradation, caused by pollution as well as poor agricultural practices.
February 2 each year is celebrated as World Wetlands Day, marking the signing of the ‘Convention on Wetlands’, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997. Since then, Government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s and community groups undertake activities annually, to mark the occasion by informing the public of the benefits of this habitat.
Participating schools will include Kellits Primary, McNie All Age, Crofts Hill Primary and Junior High, which are located in close proximity to the Mason River Reserve.