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Wetlands dir a sustainable urban future

Wetlands for a sustainable urban future commemorating the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971, World Wetlands Day is celebrated every February 2, 1977.

The importance of wetlands lies in the fact that they are ecosystems with great biological diversity, regulators of the water and climate cycle, generators of water resources for the supply of fresh water and constitute areas of use for human activities such as tourism and fishing. Wetland is considered any of the following: natural areas of wet grasslands, peat bogs, marshes, lakes, rivers, estuaries, deltas, low tides, coastal marine areas, mangroves, coral reefs, waterholes and artificial sites such as ponds fish farms, rice fields, reservoirs and salt mines. In 2018, the convening motto is "Wetlands for a sustainable urban future", which is exactly linked to the work and objectives developed by the Association since its inception, since conservation and environmental education with citizen participation in urban nature reserves of Río Gallegos and the region have been a permanent axis in their actions. The Asociación Ambiente Sur joins the world celebration of Wetlands Day, with free activities. During Friday, February 2 and Saturday 3, the Environmental Interpretation Center "Estuary of the River Gallegos" (CIERG) will remain open, from 12.00 to 18.00, during which guided visits will be made that will allow visitors to know about the estuary of the Río Gallegos, the most important wetland of our city, and the rest of the wetlands that form the System of Natural Urban Reserves of Río Gallegos. In those days, it will be possible to witness from the CIERG the extraordinary tide that will occur at noon.

These activities, open to all public, are carried out within the framework of the project "Urban Wetlands in Southern Patagonia, Strengthening of the Network of RNUs of Patagonia, training and awareness of local communities", financed by the Wetlands for the Future Fund of the Ramsar Convention. Urban wetlands are found in and around cities and their suburbs and include rivers and floodplains, lakes and marshes, as well as coastal variants such as saltwater marshes, mangroves and coral reefs. In our city they are protected by ordinance No. 6762 that created the System of Urban Natural Reserves, which includes the local estuary, lagoons and spaces with native flora and fauna, which have been recovered since then so as not to lose their numerous environmental benefits.

In that sense, the Asociación Ambiente Sur has played a fundamental role in the conservation of local wetlands from civil society and has also promoted the creation and maintenance of reserves in Patagonian cities of Chile and Argentina, which have been part of the Network of Urban Natural Reserves of Patagonia (RRNUP), in order to join actions for the conservation of urban wetlands in these cities and to strengthen the work of NGOs that accompany government agencies and other institutions in this work. Environmental benefits of wetlands According to a Ramsar document, "the expansion of cities and the increase in demand for land brings with it pressures for wetlands, which are degraded, filled in and used as land for construction. However, urban wetlands that remain intact or are restored contribute to making cities livable. " Among the valuable environmental benefits that allow urban life to be sustainable, that is, that does not affect the environment for future generations, are: the reduction of floods, because wetlands can act as giant sponges that absorb water from floods and store abundant rainfall. In coastal cities, salt marshes and mangroves are a buffer against storm surges. Also, wetlands provide drinking water since underground aquifers, rainwater and rivers are the source of almost all drinking water. Wetlands can filter the water that enters aquifers and help recharge this important source of water. In addition, they improve air quality in cities: Wetlands produce humid air due to their high water levels and abundant vegetation. This naturally cools the surrounding air, which is a relief both in tropical cities and in climates where the air is extremely dry. Well-designed and preserved urban wetlands offer people spaces for recreation and access to a diversity of plants and animals. There are studies that confirm that the interaction with nature reduces stress and improves the health of people. To this is added that they facilitate economic activities such as ecotourism or fishing.

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