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Wondrous wetlands thrive in winter


Kelsey McEwen, reporter
February 1, 2013 — They’re found on every continent but Antarctica. The most bio-diverse of all ecosystems, wetlands are an essential part of our world. Every year on February 2nd, countries around the world celebrate World Wetlands Day in hopes of raising public awareness about the value of the unique ecosystem.


Underneath the wintery scene are wetlands, which continue to thrive
Underneath the wintery scene are wetlands, which continue to thrive

The fields in Ralph Klein Park in Calgary are snow covered now, but underneath the wintery scene lies an important key to the environment, wetlands.

"They do some weird and wonderful things, and World Wetlands Day helps us focus on that," says Sid Andrews with the City of Calgary Parks. 

Each year, on February 2nd, governments around the world mark the anniversary of the Ramsar convention, a treaty signed in 1971.The goal, conserving the precious wetland ecosystem.

"And a number of countries were signatory to it, including Canada, cited the fact that wetlands were important to protect because they have many many functions," says Andrews. "One of the most important is that they humidify our air, they clean the water, and they provide habitat that is living space for many living things."

Wetlands humidify our air, clean the water and provide habitat
Wetlands humidify our air, clean the water and provide habitat

Even in the winter, when the world seems to be just snow and ice, wetlands continue to thrive.

"The water is frozen and that adds some insulation to things that had been living in summertime, the warm season. They’ll burrow down into the mud and go into suspended animation, if you will, hibernation," explains Andrews. 

He adds that smaller critters that need the air, like mice and meadow mice or voles live in the snow and in the vegetation that is broken down after it's died off. 

"And coyotes and minks and weasels find those really tasty as well, and a good source of food in the wintertime. So wetlands are very much alive, even though they look like they’re very quiet and frozen up solid," Andrews says. 

It's an important part of our planet and what World Wetlands Day strives to protect.

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