World Wetlands Day 2023
Today we are celebrating ‘World Wetlands Day’. This year’s theme is “It’s Time for Wetland Restoration” and it highlights the urgent need to prioritise wetland restoration and calls for action to revive and restore degraded wetlands.
More than 35% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded or lost since 1970. Reversing this trend now is critical. Wetlands support critical ecosystems and biodiversity and 40 percent of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands. The #GenerationRestoration campaign aims to raise awareness and understanding of what wetlands are and how we can contribute towards restoring them.
Akagera National Park is Central Africa’s largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. The wetlands are vital ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity and climate change mitigation as well as supplying nearby communities with water for basic household needs, raw materials for handcrafts and grass for livestock. In 2010, African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board entered a partnership with a clear vision: to increase security, to reintroduce locally extinct species and to increase community engagement which was the foundation to rehabilitation. Akagera is almost unrecognisable today compared to over 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever, making it an inspiring story of revival.
The Akagera Swamps are an important ornithological site, home to the rare Shoebill and Papyrus Gonolek. The park has over 400 bird species who favour the diverse natural habitat including the Red-faced Barbet, Bennett’s Woodpecker and African Fish Eagles, Crowned Cranes and Egrets, among many others. Wildlife numbers have now grown from less than 5000 to almost 12,000 and it now boasts thriving populations of lion, leopard, giraffe, elephant, rhino, hippo and buffalo, as well as zebra.
DelAgua’s Tubeho Neza project is delivering a Nature-based Solution to benefit the wildlife, nature and people in this region too. We are providing clean cookstoves to Rwanda’s rural poor and are tackling both climate change and biodiversity and habitat loss at scale. We have distributed to areas around Akagera wetlands, across 2 districts including distributing 15,515 stoves in Ngoma District and 23,637 stoves in Bugesera District.
The Tubeho Neza stoves cuts wood usage by 71% compared to a traditional 3-stone fire and requires just small pieces of wood and tinder, not large branches. This means each stove saves 35 tons of carbon emissions over its 10- year life and deforestation caused by the harvesting of forestry for wood fuel is significantly reduced and vital wildlife habitats like Akagera are preserved.
Read more about the Tubeho Neza Project here.
It is an ongoing challenge to protect these vital wetland areas, but with local and global collaboration, it can be achieved.