The term wetland refers to a wide range of ecosystems that share the overriding importance of water. The term includes mainly rivers, lakes, marshes, peatlands, alluvial zones (areas under the influence of rivers or lakes), flanks of glaciers, aquifers, oasis in deserts, but also marine ecosystems such as estuaries, mangroves or coral reefs. We also find man-made wetlands: rice paddies and salt pans are two examples.
160 countries have ratified the Ramsar Convention and designated over 1900 wetlands of international importance which cover 0.4% of the Earth’s surface. When joining the Convention countries agree to fulfil several obligations:
to designate at least one wetland of international importance in its territory,
to manage all its wetlands in a sustainable way, and finally,
to cooperate at the international level in regard to migratory species and trans-boundary wetland sites and catchments.
Switzerland joined the Convention in 1976. To date it has designated 11 sites, including 8676 hectares. Two of these sites are the Grande Cariçaie (total 2860 hectares) and make the Grande Cariçaie the largest Ramsar site in the country. The information sheets for these two wetlands can be found on the sidebar.
Each year, World Wetlands Day celebrates the adoption of the Convention on 2nd February. Numerous events are organised throughout the world by natural area managers, NGOs or government agencies. The Association de la Grande Cariçaie contributes to World Wetlands Day by organising activities for the general public and schools.