Wetlands have been defined as expanses of water, swamps, natural or artificial, permanent or temporary waters, with stagnant or flowing water, sweet or salty, including expanses of marine water with a depth at low tide that does not exceed 6 meters. Wetlands may also include riparian areas, coastal areas adjacent to the wetlands, islands or bodies of marine water deeper than 6 meters at low tide.
In 1971, the Convention on the protection of wetlands of international importance – RAMSAR was signed in Iran, Convention mission being “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national level actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development throughout the world”.
The declared goal of the Convention was to conserve wetlands, fauna and flora that serve as habitat for aquatic birds, and on the other hand, they constitute the most important resource of economic, natural, scientific and recreational value, whose loss would be irreparable.
Since 2011, the Iron Gates Natural Park is a designated as a Ramsar site, representing a particular significance in ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological and hydrological terms.
Wetlands have a particularly important role for the environment ensuring a number of ecological functions, including: hydrological transfer and water tank, bio-geo-chemical transfer, primary productivity and production, nitrogen and carbon cycling, they help control floods, filtering, cleaning and retention of nutrients and sediments, participating in water purification. Furthermore, they offer a variety of recreational activities including fishing, where there are no other conservation statuses determined, swimming, bird watching, boating, kayaking, cruises, being attractive to visitors due to the great biodiversity that they support.
Wetlands are important because they provide habitat for wildlife and for maintaining a specific biodiversity. In the wetlands of the Iron Gates Natural Park there are more than 20,000 individuals belonging to the avifauna. Water birds depend on wetlands for a variety of activities that include feeding, spawning, nesting, migration, shelter, and have specific adaptations that enable them to exploit a particular habitat in a wet area, limiting direct competition with each other. The largest number of water birds is often found in wetlands with the highest diversity of plant species and vegetation types, therefore the protection of the wetlands automatically involves the conservation of water bird habitats.