Get your feet wet with Latvia's habitat of the year

Yet another unexpected winner in the categories of the nature phenomena of the year. The Latvian Fund for Nature (LDF) has selected wetlands as the habitat of the year, LDF said on January 12.

Wetlands, as the name suggests, are overly damp territories, sometimes fully covered with a shallow layer of water. These are bogs, swamps, alluvial meadows, and other habitats where soil meets water a bit too much.

Wetlands are home to a lot of life forms – both water and land plants, moss, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Many birds of Latvia use wetlands as either their nesting or feeding territories.

In agriculture, wetlands sometimes pose a problem, so they are artificially dried. LDF aims to not only remind farmers about the necessity of wetlands for wildlife but also show ways how wetlands can be agriculturally managed. 

In 1971,  the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar, the only international environmental convention dedicated to a particular ecosystem. Although the importance of wetlands was so strongly emphasized at the global level more than 50 years ago, they continue to disappear. More than 35% of wetlands have disappeared globally over the past 50 years, their areas declining at three times the rate of forests. Wetland areas in Latvia are also decreasing historically and currently. Alluvial meadows, one of the most important wetland habitats, remain in Latvia at only 0.3% of the country's territory.

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