OECS Commission celebrates World Wetlands Day

OECS Media Release

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States celebrates World Wetlands Day today in commemoration of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) that was adopted in Ramsar, Iran on February 2nd 1971. The 2017 theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” was selected to raise awareness and to highlight the vital roles of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as floods, droughts and cyclones on communities, and in helping to build resilience.

Ms. Joan Norville, Project Officer for the Climate Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) Project, reiterated the importance of wetlands to climate change mitigation in the OECS region.

“The Commission recognises the contribution of wetlands in enhancing the resilience of our communities in the region.”

“Currently, the OECS is working on a number of community-based projects including some at mangrove sites which are aimed at reducing vulnerability to Climate Change and sustaining livelihoods,” Norville said.

Three (3) OECS Member States have Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) as follows:


Antigua and Barbuda
October 2, 2005
Codrington Lagoon National park
Comprises mangroves, seagrass beds, algal mats, tidal and mud flats, beaches and coral reefs, supporting a diversity of marine species such as juvenile lobster, reef fish, sea turtles (including endangered Hawksbill and Leatherback) and marine mammals, as well as nesting sea birds.

September 22, 2012
Levera Wetland Protected Area
Comprises a mangrove swamp, sandy beaches, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and an offshore island. The site hosts endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles, elkhorn coral and the endemic Grenada Hook-billed Kite which depends on forest habitats, including wooded freshwater swamps, and mangrove swamps.

June 19, 2002
Mankòtè Mangrove
Marine Reserve
The largest contiguous wetland area in St. Lucia, and a vital nursery for the local fishery. Subsistence activities take place mainly fishing and charcoal production by local communities. Savannes Bay Marine Reserve
Comprises mangrove forest, seagrass beds, and coral reef. The Caribbean spiny lobster occupies the mangrove and seagrass as a nursery and supports the artisanal fisheries particularly during the low period for offshore pelagics.

Defined as land areas that are flooded with water, either seasonally or permanently, wetlands are a natural buffer against disasters:

Along the coastline, wetlands act as a natural protective buffer;
Inland, wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flooding. During the dry season, they release the stored water, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water shortages;
When an extreme event hits, healthy wetlands can absorb some of the shock, cushioning the damage in local communities;
Wetlands can also speed up the recovery and help to “build back better” after a disaster, acting as natural water filters and nutrient restorers;
Maintaining healthy wetlands and restoring degraded ones means that a community can deal with a disaster even better next time.
Some wetlands that help us cope with extreme weather events:

Coral Reefs
Rivers and Flood Plains
Since the adoption of the Ramsar Convention, almost 90% of UN member states from around the world have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”. The Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.



Find out how the wetlands in your area are being used or overused – and who depends on them;
Adopt practices that ensure long- term sustainability of the local wetlands for everyone. Measures might include controlling illegal fishing and dumping, no–take rules, set catch limits and regulate the type of activities by season;
Clear rubbish from wetlands, and unblock streams and rivers.

Governments can include wetlands in their strategy for coping with disasters. Possible measures include:

Designate wetlands in flood- and storm-prone zones as protected areas;
Restore degraded wetlands that act as protective barriers;
Work with local stake holders and civil society to promote sustainable agriculture, fisheries and tourism;
Adopt cross sectoral policies especially in agriculture and water to help protect wetlands.

Organize or join a wetland clean-up;
Become a Wetland Ambassador advocate for wetlands;
Use water more sparingly and avoid toxic products that drain into wetlands;
Participate in actions to conserve and restore wetlands.
Joan Norville
Project Officer, Climate Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) Project
Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

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