According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a wetland includes marshes, swamps, bogs, riverbanks, mangroves, and rice fields. The level of water saturation is the determinant factor when it comes to the types of plants and animals that will thrive in a certain wetland. Wetlands occur in every continent apart from Antarctica.
Most environmentalists, as well as other individuals with a deep concern for the planet, have an intrinsic understanding of the important role played by these wetlands. Basically, wetlands are home to a wider variety of both flora and fauna when compared to other common landforms. Besides, they are critical in feeding down streams, recharging underground water reservoirs, trapping floodwaters, offering a habitat for aquatic life, and removing pollutants from the environment.
In terms of economic gains, wetlands are important to agriculture and other activities like fishing. As such, most wetlands are vulnerable to irresponsible utilization given that they have an abundance of food, water, and fuel. But when people think of them as unproductive tracts of land, they are converted to drainage areas.
As the population increases, there will be an increase in the overall demand for food and land. As a result, more wetlands will be suffering from a greater pressure of overutilization.
Wetlands act as unique wildlife nurseries thanks to their location between salt and freshwater, water and land. In fact, wetlands are home to over 25% of all threatened and endangered wildlife species in the US. Therefore, if wetlands were to cease existing, there are some important mammals, fish, and avian species that would be lost completely. Interestingly, a wetland is designed to behave like a sponge that soaks in wastewater that comes as a result of periodical floods. Simply put, they have a higher ability and efficiency of regulating floods, unlike manmade floodwalls.
Generally, trees are considered to be the lungs of this planet. At the same time, a wetland function as the kidney to the planet. Wetlands are great for cleaning heavy metals from the ecosystem as well as excess phosphorus and nitrites. As such, the planet needs healthy wetlands so that there can be a continuous availability of clean drinking water.
When we look at storms, wetlands are great for containing floods. Scientists report that a three-mile wetland is enough to lower a storm by at least one foot. In locations where there has been excessive land exploitation, the land can be successfully restored through the conservation of wetlands. Another study indicated that healthy wetlands with mangrove forests are critical in the reduction of dangerous winds and wave swells.
Across multiple continents, rice is a staple food with significant value. Rice is cultivated in wetlands as well as delicious fish and other aquatic species that are used as food. Besides providing food, wetlands are part of amazing recreational areas where tourists enjoy activities like bird watching, kayaking, and hiking. These areas also provide employment to the local population as well as investment opportunities for the business community. Most importantly, healthy wetlands are considered as one of the best ways to mitigate the ongoing sea level rise.