The Importance of Wetlands
Wetlands are importance ecosystems that are created where land and water meet, creating a “wet land” or marsh-like area. Water either covers the soil or is present at the surface of the ground during the vast majority of the year, making for a different ecology than areas where ground is able to absorb water or where water completely covers soil year-round. Because of the special circumstances that create wetlands, very specific organisms and plants thrive there.
There are two types of wetlands, differentiated because of their proximity to oceans and tides. These two types are coastal wetlands and inland wetlands. While inland wetlands are created with freshwater, coastal wetlands have salt water that cover them. Inland wetlands are often called bogs, swamps and fens while coastal wetlands are often referred to as estuaries. Both types of wetlands offer many benefits to the environment, humans and animals alike.
Wetlands around the world are home to over one-third of all endangered animals in the world who are only able to live in the environment of the wetlands. Wildlife habitats are created by the presence of wetlands that is used for breeding, nesting, and feeding for many animals and birds that create their homes in the wetland ecosystem. This makes wetlands extremely important because of the balance thy offer to so many animals and subsequently to the whole ecosystem.
Wetlands are also valuable in storing and filtering nutrients and sediments in their soil. The clam and stagnant water in the wetlands combined with their flat surface allow many minerals to settle out of the water and allow for the plants that thrive in wetlands to absorb them. It also allows the many organisms to benefit from the nutrient-full plants they are surrounded with. This absorption of sediments also helps to clean the waters around the wetlands and stemming from them such as nearby rivers and lakes, filtering the water and making it better for human consumption and for the surrounding environments. Wetlands are considered by many ecologists to be the “kidneys” of nature because of their cleansing functions and their ability to filter and clean the waters so efficiently. They do this by retaining sediments and the toxic pollutants attached to those sediments such as PCPs, phosphorus, heavy metals and pesticides. Wetland plants also transform nitrogen and phosphorus into unavailable forms, reducing algal blooms and fish kills caused by these nutrients. This in turn provides a rich environment for a variety of plant and animal species while also providing protection from flooding and erosion.
Wetlands which are vital to the balance of rivers and crucial for the diversity of animal and vegetable species can only be preserved through political resolve. They should not be merely abandoned but properly managed like other areas. The importance of wetlands can not be underestimated and indeed, more efforts should be made to not only preserve them, but to artificially create them as well. The benefits of wetlands to society and to the overall ecology of the plant is crucial–they provide homes to numerous species and their filtering and cleaning ability is specific to wetlands. Without them, pollutants and sediments would destroy much of the surrounding environments, harming the ecology for humans and the diversity of plants and animals that depend on wetlands for their survival. Because of the increase in production and the growing concern of human pollution, wetlands should be preserved–having more wetlands can help to balance out the damaging effects of modern pollution and make the earth a cleaner place and environment for everyone.