Wetlands of the Azores

Artigo Zonas Húmidas dos Açores
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What are Wetlands?

On the 2nd of February, the World Wetlands Day was celebrated. But what are Wetlands? A wetland can be any ecosystem structured in shallow water (such as swampland) and with stagnant or flowing water. It can be fresh, brackish or salt water, including shallow marine waters.

Zonas Húmidas dos Açores

But what is the importance of this topic? These areas are among the richest and most productive ecosystems in the world in terms of biological diversity, with large concentrations of water birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

In addition, these spaces are associated with several services and functions that are very important to us, such as flood control (retaining excess water), groundwater replenishment and regulation of the water cycle. Biomass production, retention of sediments and nutrients and mitigation of climate change (by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis) are other benefits.

Wetlands also have great cultural, tourist and recreational values, and are currently highly sought after for ecotourism.

On February 2, 1971, an intergovernmental treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar, with the aim of conserving these areas that proved to be so important. This was the first global treaty with this concern and became known as the Ramsar Convention. It came into force in 1975 and currently has 1929 designated sites in 160 contracting countries on all continents, covering a total surface of around 188 million hectares of wetlands.

In our archipelago there are coastal wetlands (with marine influence) and terrestrial wetlands (without direct marine influence). Of the wetlands as a whole, 13 Ramsar sites have been officially designated, covering a total area of over 13,000 hectares.

Zonas Húmidas dos Açores

The designated Ramsar sites in the Azores are worthy of their rarity in the international context, namely geothermal-type wetlands or peat bogs with tree vegetation.

These areas are very sensitive places that are seriously threatened worldwide by various factors, such as pollution, urbanization and the intensification of agriculture and fisheries.

In addition to managing these areas, we, as citizens, can also help protect them. Participating in wetland conservation and restoration campaigns, using non-toxic products and moderating the use of water in everyday life are some of the actions that can make a difference.







Photos references

  1. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/748019819330476115/
  2. https://natalyadrian.com/2016/04/03/faja-da-caldeira-do-santo-cristo/


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