A spectacular 3D mural showcasing the vital importance of wetlands has been unveiled in Bristol today to celebrate World Wetlands Day, held on 2 February every year.
Commissioned by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the mural highlights this year’s World Wetland Day theme of wetland restoration.
It shows a degraded wetland transforming into a flourishing habitat, filled with thriving wildlife and reminds viewers that 90% of freshwater wetlands have been lost or destroyed in England alone in the past 400 years.
Yet, a staggering 45% of people in the UK do not know what a wetland is1 and this large-scale artwork is designed to help significantly increase the number of people aware of these types of habitat and the challenges they face.
Featuring iconic British species like curlew and kingfishers, otters and dragonflies, this mural is a vision of Britain’s ‘blue recovery’. This is a possible future if Britain chooses to revive its lost wetland ecosystems.
By creating this nature-inspired interactive mural with artists 3D Joe & Max the charity wants to highlight what wetlands are, their immense value , and demonstrate what people can do to help wetlands.
The group is urging people to sign their Wetlands Can! campaign pledge calling for the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands across the UK.
Members of the public can interact with the mural by standing on the jetty, sitting in the boat or snapping a photo as they plant a shoot in the saltmarsh, symbolising the regeneration of wetlands.
After being unveiled today the mural will go on a tour of sites across the UK, including several WWT wetland centres, town centres and locations belonging to the Blue Recovery Leaders Group - a wide-ranging group of business leaders committed to championing wetlands.
Director of Conservation at WWT Dr James Robinson said:
“This World Wetlands Day we want people to become as familiar with wetlands as they are with woodlands and realise what amazing powers these vital habitats have to help combat the climate crisis, protect vulnerable wildlife, contribute to our wellbeing, and reduce flooding.
Recent research has found that saltmarshes absorb carbon around 40 times faster than temperate forests, yet 90% of England’s wetlands have been lost, alongside 87% of the world's inland wetlands. Sadly those remaining are still under threat. “WWT is calling upon Government, business and wider society to help us restore and create 100,000 hectares of wetlands in the UK to help combat the climate, nature and wellbeing crises.”
Environment Minister, Trudy Harrison MP, said:
“Wetlands do so much for us and for nature – they prevent biodiversity loss, support wildlife such as migratory birds on their long journeys, as well as help to tackle climate change and manage its impacts.
“Protecting, managing and restoring healthy wetlands is an important part of the vision to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, and we will be delivering on that through our comprehensive Environmental Improvement Plan. Wetland areas can also support our commitment to protect at least 30 percent of land and sea for nature by 2030 and create more beautiful spaces for everyone to enjoy”.
David Lindo, The Urban Birder, said:
“Wild marshes, babbling streams, urban ponds: all the wetland places where water meets land are essential to life on Earth and home to so many amazing creatures.
Creating more wetlands habitats across the UK, including those in urban areas, will help give safe passage to millions of migratory birds, get more people closer to nature than ever and increase the UK’s appreciation for wetlands, the unsung hero of the natural world.”
Kwesia, City Girl in Nature, said:
"We need more wetlands, especially in urban areas, to help tackle the nature and wellbeing crises. We need to raise awareness and engage more young people with nature and get people thinking about the benefits of wetlands. Murals like this help do that, and change the narrative."
Please add your name and help us push for the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands in the UK.Sign now
1 According to research data by nfpResearch CAM.