My name is Melvin Flores. I am a biologist from Guatemala, a youth ambassador for WWF Mesoamerica and a member of the Global Youth Action Team (GYAT). Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in looking after the environment. In fact, one of the activities in which I became involved to promote environmental education has led me where I am today. The GYAT is a select group of 12 youth aged between 20 and 30 years who are from different geographical regions and promote nature conservation and the participation of youth in decision making for the care of our planet.
The GYAT has functioned as a platform to give a voice to youth in a large number of countries. This has made it possible to learn about the various projects led by youth throughout the world with the aim of minimizing the impact of human beings on the environment, setting an example for all generations and leaving a better planet for future generations.
At the GYAT we consider that it is of utmost importance for global society to realize how important wetlands are for the health of ecosystems, for the thousands of species of animals, plants and fungi that live in them and for our own health and wellbeing. Consequently, at some of the environmental education workshops of the GYAT we have highlighted the conservation of wetlands and shared examples of actions we have implemented in each of our countries to take care of these ecosystems.
A clear example of the broad biodiversity that wetlands support is amphibians and reptiles, most of which are indicators of the good quality of water and the health of the ecosystem in general. The protected area known as Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic in the department of Izabal is one of the seven Ramsar wetlands that exist in Guatemala. In this wetland it is possible to see glass frogs (Hyalinobatrachium viridissimum) and even their eggs laid on leaves on the river edge.
In some of the wetlands of Guatemala it is also possible to find species of diurnal and semi-arboreal snakes such as Leptophis ahaetulla.
The importance of wetlands justifies not only conserving these ecosystems but also maintaining the ecosystem services they provide such as water resources, water retention and storage, ecotourism, recreation and their function as sponges or filters that remove toxic substances from water bodies, among others.
It is our duty to take care of wetlands and inform the global society about the importance of conserving them. We cannot allow them to continue to be lost, polluted, diverted and destroyed. Our future and that of all the species they support depend on the actions that we take today.