Local middle school students celebrate World Wetlands Day with University of Waterloo

Friday, January 30, 2015

The University of Waterloo’s Ecohydrology Research Group will welcome 175 middle school students from four local schools for an exclusive morning workshop as part of World Wetlands Day on Monday.

World Wetlands Day is an annual celebration commemorating the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty with 168 contracting parties committed to protecting more than 200 million hectares of designated wetlands. Canada comprises a surprising 25% of the world's wetlands.

“Wetlands are vital for a healthy local environment and economy,” said Philippe Van Cappellen, Canada Excellence Research Chair and head of the Ecohydrology Research Group at Waterloo. “It’s important we pass on this knowledge to our future generation of citizens and decision makers.”

Professor Van Cappellen will speak to students about the importance of wetlands, including the numerous services they provide, such as water purification, flood control, recreation and biodiversity. For Waterloo Region alone, the value of these services is estimated to be several hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Afterwards, students will rotate through a series of hands-on activities that demonstrate what scientists know about these often threatened habitats. In one such activity, the Web of Life, each student represents an organism, plant, animal or microbe, or a non-living component, like water or soil. They then have to connect to each other in order to interact as an ecosystem. Scenarios like deforestation or wetland drainage are then introduced to teach students how human activities can impact wetlands and their services.

“We encourage everyone to take a look at the wetlands in their ‘backyard’ and learn more about the benefits they provide and how to protect them,” said Van Cappellen.

In addition to the morning workshop, the Ecohydrology Research Group is hosting an afternoon research symposium featuring the latest in wetlands science and policy followed by an evening public lecture by Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Professor William Mitsch.

Date: Monday, February 2, 2015

Time:

  • Closed morning session for schools: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Afternoon research symposium for university researchers: 1 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Evening lecture open to the public: 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Location: Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (EIT) and DC - William G. Davis Computer Research Centre, University of Waterloo

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