Wetlands are marshes, fens, bogs, and swamps. Once disregarded as wastelands our wetlands are places of great beauty and wildness. These unique habitats are host to a great diversity of plants and animals. In the summer, the wetlands hum with the beating of insect wings, and on a still November day the lonely call of the curlew echoes through the landscape. Throughout our history, wetlands have been both cursed for their bleakness and praised for their wild beauty. They are part of our heritage and a distinctive feature of the Irish countryside. Unfortunately, we are losing our wetlands at an alarming rate. Between 1990 and 2006, it is estimated that there has been a 10% decrease in area covered by wetlands in Ireland (CORINE). Wetlands continue to be lost and there is no specific policy for the protection of wetlands in Ireland. However, Ireland is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention and currently, there are 45 Ramsar sites in Ireland (see www.ramsar.org). Wetlands are a national asset for us to enjoy but we must also take action to ensure that they are protected.

What is the IWT doing to protect wetlands?

The IWT is highlighting the need for a comprehensive wetland policy and strategy for Ireland that reflects their value, functions, ecosystem services and which can improve decision-making processes in relation to proposals which could alter our wetland ecosystems. We have produced exhibitions and in 2010 we published ‘Our Wetlands Heritage’ – an information booklet explores our wetland’s wildlife from dragonflies, butterflies, frogs, and newts to wetland birds right up to our largest carnivore: the otter. The booklet also explores the value of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide and examines the associated threats to them and what we can do to ensure wetland protection for the future.

You can order a copy today by placing an order. You can phone in using your credit card to 01-8602839 or send a cheque or postal order for €5.00 (€3 for the booklet and €2 for P+P) to Irish Wildlife Trust, Sigmund Business Centre, 93A Lagan Road, Dublin Industrial Estate, Glasnevin, Dublin 11.

IWT would like to thank the Heritage Council for funding the printing of this booklet under the Heritage Education, Communications and Outreach Grants Scheme 2010.