Inside: Wetlands are amazing ecosystems and there are a number of reasons wetlands are important. They are meant to be preserved not destroyed.
I’m walking in my 30 acre woods. In this tree filled and mostly silent space, I am filled with a sense of wonder. My next step jolts me from this serenity. I see my foot sinking in ankle-deep muck. A gut-wrenching stench fills my nostrils. Mosquitoes dance around my head. Yuck! I’m not feeling the good vibes any longer. I feel an overwhelming urge to dig out this damp, foul smelling spot that has ruined my peaceful walk.
That, my dear friends, is a wetland. My forest is dotted with these temporary wet spots. And despite my repugnance of these smelly wet spots there are many reasons wetlands are important. Despite the awful smell of many wetlands there compelling reasons to preserve them. Click To Tweet If I got rid of these wet areas in my forest I would deprive my forest ecosystem and myself of many frog species that make them their home. These temporary wet spots are nurseries to tree frogs and other organisms that get their start in early spring.
There are many different types of wetlands. Some are temporary and often foul smelling like many in my forest ecosystem. Many wetlands are a more permanent part of the landscape. Marshes and bogs may last for years before succession turns them into dry land. Many, due to the geography of the area survive for centuries.
A wetland is an area that is very damp or covered in water some of the time or seasonally. Water is an important part of all wetlands which are links between land and aquatic ecosystems.
These intermediary ecosystems, a bridge shall we say between dry land and water, are important for many different reasons. They are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.
Reasons Wetlands are Important
- They are wildlife resting places and nurseries. Many amphibians and fish begin their life in wetland ecosystems. Some live their entire life cycle in a wetland.
- They are nesting sites. Many birds build their nests and raise their young in wetlands. Ecologists recognize many wetlands as internationally crucial habitat for the conservation of migratory birds. Recently, scientists have recognized wetlands as important feeding spots of many bat species due to the abundance of insect populations.
- They provide a feeding ground for a large number of animal populations. Wetlands are comparable to rainforests and coral reefs both also highly productive. Wetlands are ‘biological supermarkets‘ producing large volumes of food attracting many animal species.
- Wetlands are an amazing water filtration system. Plants and root systems slow down water flow allowing sediments and many chemical particles to drop down to the wetland bottom. Leaves and roots absorb nutrient waste. Other waste materials are trapped by the soil and broken down by the microorganisms that live there. So when the water moves from the wetland to open lakes or water bodies, it is much cleaner.
- Wetlands hold vast quantities of water. They act like sponges. Wetlands soak up lots of water and hold it. Melting snow and rain is soaked up and released gradually into nearby water bodies and ground water. Water levels in streams and rivers are kept higher during dry summers and early fall by this gradual release of wetland water.
- Wetlands control and reduce flooding. Because of the spongy nature of wetlands, they absorb tremendous amounts of water reducing floodwaters during snow melt and heavy storms. Trees, root mats, and other wetland vegetation slows the speed of floodwater. These waters are then distributed more evenly over the floodplain.
- Wetlands protect shorelines from storm damage. Coastal wetlands slow down waves by absorbing wave energy. In this way, shorelines are buffered from damaging hurricanes and tropical storms.
- Wetlands can help solve our climate problem. Wetlands have a huge ability to store carbon. Because of their ability to store water and modify flow rate, they are critical for coastal areas to survive changes related to global warming.
- Wetlands produce a number of commercially important products. Fish, shellfish, blueberries, cranberries, timber, and wild rice are all harvested from wetlands.
- Wetlands provide a place for people to explore a beautiful, unique ecosystem and reconnect with nature.
So, you see there are many reasons to preserve wetlands. My original disgust of those smelly forest wet spots has transformed into a new appreciation of the ecological importance of wetlands….even the smelly, mosquito-infested ones. As long as they remain in my forest and not in my back garden I will let nature take its course.Wetlands provide a place for people to explore a unique ecosystem and reconnect with nature. Click To Tweet
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