Wetlands are areas where water is present at or near the surface of the ground. They are also entirely covered by water for at least part of the year. There are two main types of wetlands: coastal wetlands and inland wetlands. Coastal wetlands are near the ocean while inlands wetlands are normally near rivers or lakes. Wetlands are in many environments and are on every continent except Antarctica. They vary in size and can be found along coasts and inland. Some wetlands are full of trees while some are grasslands or are full of spongy mosses. Wetlands are important for many reasons. They provide habitat for many endangered plants and animals, and improve water quality. In addition they can store carbon and help reduce the effects of climate change. Wetlands also help us in many ways. They can help provide us with fresh water and store water protecting us from drought. They provide shoreline erosion control and very effective flood control. They also act as storm and wind buffers.
While wetlands are helpful they also still face many ecological and human threats. They face habitat fragmentation caused by development. They are also threatened by pollution and invasive species. To help wetlands you can write letters and protest when a wetland is threatened with development. You can also get involved in clean up opportunities to help reduce pollution, as well as habitat restoration to remove invasive species – like here at the ENC! Another great way to help is by spreading the world about wetlands and how to protect them. There are also many interesting facts concerning wetlands. Many plants and animals rely on wetlands. ⅓ of endangered animals live in wetlands. An acre of wetland can store about 1–1.5 million gallons of floodwater. Llanos de Moxos, in Bolivia, is the largest protected wetland in the world, it is around the size of North Dakota. Also remember we have a World’s Wetlands Day on February 2nd – be sure to celebrate it next year by volunteering to pick up trash or help restore habitat!
– Lexi McKee
Lexi McKee completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project at the Environmental Nature Center – she helped restore our Marsh, a freshwater wetland. She also created a video about the process, you can check it out HERE.