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San Pedro commemorates World Wetlands Day

In observance of World Wetlands Day, the San Pedro Business Association, Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) under theme “Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands connect us all” held a boat parade early Monday morning, February 2, to show support and awareness of the wetlands in San Pedro and around the country of Belize.

The boat parade started around 7:30a.m. with about 20 boats leaving from the lagoon just behind the old football field. The boats then circled the Boca Ciega channel on the southern tip of the island. Later in the afternoon a poster competition was held at the Central Park, where primary school students were asked to make posters under the theme “Mangrove and Me”.

First prize in the competition went to Mariano, Kristian and Walter, Standard VI students of Isla Bonita Elementary ($300 cash prize), second place went Lucy, Kylie, Steven, Richelle, Brandon and Alina, Standard I students of Ambergris Elementary ($200 cash prize) and third prize went to Reena Godoy of San Pedro Roman Catholic School ($100 cash Prize). A prize for the most creative poster was given to Nathan Lisbey of Island Academy.

The World Wetlands Day 2009 was celebrated this year with a theme of “Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands connect us all”. The focus is designed around the theme of wetlands in the context of river basin management and the role wetlands play in their surrounding environments. This is in recognition of how interconnected we all are within river basins and the impact that activities upstream have on the lower parts of a river catchment.

Wetlands have numerous functions:

* Wetlands provide habitat for plants and animals such as amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals and birds

* Wetlands help control flood waters by acting like a giant sponge, absorbing water during heavy rainfall then slowly releasing it back into the ecosystem

* Wetlands can assist in erosion control as they are often located between water bodies and high ground. The roots of the vegetation help to protect soil from high impact events such as wave action or heavy rainfall events

* Wetlands are important culturally and for recreational activities

* Wetlands enhance water quality as they act like giant kidneys, purifying and processing nutrients, suspended materials and other pollutants

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on February 2. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971. Thanks to all those who participated in show of support and awareness to the wetlands that are a crucial ecosystem in our natural environment.

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