The waters of the Okavango river course throughout south-western Africa flowing from Angola to Namibia before branching out and forming an inland delta in northern Botswana. The resultant Okavango delta is one of the world’s most significant wetlands and a World Heritage site.
Wetlands, both inland and coastal, are integral to the wellbeing of both people and the environment. They provide a safeguard for vulnerable communities against the devastations of natural disasters such as floods, droughts and storm surges, filter and store water reserves as well as providing a home for a variety of fauna and flora.
Coastal wetlands including mangrove regions shield against flooding and act as a buffer against both saltwater intrusion and erosion. By contrast, inland wetlands, such as the swamps of the Okavango delta, work to mitigate the risk of drought.
Such a high achiever deserves some recognition and every year, 2 February marks World Wetlands Day. It commemorates the Ramsar Convention, signed on this date back in 1971, which outlines the framework for both national and international co-operation towards the conservation and utilisation of wetlands and their valuable resources.
This year’s theme was “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” and this course of action must occur in the Okavango Delta region.
While, the 15,000 square metre swampland of the Okavango Delta provides a habitat for some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammals, the Kalahari Desert, which borders the region, is a vital environment for other local wildlife. Therefore, the management of the wetlands is crucial to maintain the delicate environmental harmony.
This image of the Okavango Delta, above, was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite.
It has been processed in false colour in order to highlight variation in water coverage and differences in vegetation.
Originally published by Cosmos as The wonderful wetlands of Botswana
Jessica Snir is a clinical trial coordinator at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and Cosmos contributor.
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