Mangroves, lagoons, ponds and swamps came under the spotlight yesterday on World Wetlands Day.
The National Parks Authority joined the global community in observing the occasion, this time held under the theme ‘it’s time for wetland restoration’.
“The National Park recognises that wetlands are of considerable value to our overall ecosystem and the lives and livelihoods of our people,” a release said. “In Antigua they are easily identifiable by virtue of the fact they are usually saturated, covered by water or dominated by mangrove vegetation.”
Mangrove wetland ecosystems are regarded as extremely important for coastal resilience and the support of livelihoods.
Within the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, this is especially true because of the multiple coastal communities that are heavily reliant on the marine ecosystems, including wetlands.
Mangrove wetland ecosystems are to be found in all of the park’s bays and harbours. Some of the major ones that provide benefits to the community include Marsh Village mangrove wetlands (Falmouth Harbour), Ordnance Bay mangrove wetlands (English Harbour) and Indian Creek.
“These are among the reasons why the National Park is committed to ensure their survival and protection. They are protected under the NPA General Regulations 2012 and the Environmental Management and Protection Act 2019,” the release continued.
“Under the regulations, the park maintains its vigilance against all man-made threats against our wetlands. For instance, in 2021 it discovered an illegal backfilled site and as a result went about restoring the area to its previous state.
“The backfill was removed and the red mangrove seedlings that were planted continue to mature today.
“It’s this type of care and effort that will ensure our wetlands can continue to provide important benefits to include nurseries for juvenile fish, coastal protection from storm surge and inundation, sediment trapping of land-based substrate and natural mooring for boat owners.
“Mangroves trees also provide essential habitat for both native and migrant birds that nest in Antigua and Barbuda,” the release added.
In 2020, the Authority conducted a mangrove wetland assessment which highlighted that mangrove wetlands cover some 260,855m2 of coastal area within the park. It also identified the health characteristics and threats these ecosystems are facing, and found that approximately 27 percent of mangrove wetland areas have been lost over the last 70 years.
Visit www.nationalparksantigua.com/eco-wetlands for more information.