But WHY are Wetlands Important?

by Stephanie D on September 14, 2010


As someone fairly new to the concept of stream mitigation and wetland credits, I have often asked "but WHY are wetlands important?"   In the recent post titled "Why wetlands are Important" the writer does a really good job answering the question…  In case you are new to this concept;

wetlands are areas of submerged or water saturated land, both natural and artificial, permanent and temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6 meters.

Wetlands can be found along the coast or inland near a river system.  One of the most popular and most recognized examples in the United States is the Florida Everglades.  These are fresh water wetlands as well as marine water.

For a long time, wetlands were used as dump sites and considered wastelands.  The writer states that

Wetlands are a complex ecosystems that carry out various biological, ecological and chemical processes. For a long time they were considered as wastelands and were used as dump sites. However, wetlands play a very important role in balancing the ecosystem. They are very critical in maintaining the water cycle as well as the numerous biochemical processes to maintain an ecological balance. They act as buffers from severe cyclonic storms in most coastal areas of the world. They also play an important role in controlling flood waters by acting as flood-balancing reservoirs and treat waste waters.

Wetlands are rich in nutrients and they serve as a home to many migratory birds such as Pelicans, Flamingos, Storks, Cranes, and Teals that travel long distances every year from the cold regions.  They are an ideal place and a safe haven for these birds to come and breed and raise their young.  The shallow water, weeds and tall grass are perfect nesting grounds. 

Also found in the wetlands are various fresh water fish and marine fish that use the wetlands to spawn. 

Fish like Salmon swim upriver through these coastal wetlands to spawn in fresh river waters. Most fisheries of the world are found near the wetlands as they are rich in numerous fish species.

As crazy as it may sound, wetlands can be under tremendous stress due to several factors.  Booming population growth and increased pressure on land development are a factor.   Increasing polution levels can cause a chemical imbalance in the wetlands.  Severe flooding that can cause heavy sedimentation, especially in areas that have been converted into land masses for agriculture and industrial development, is another factor.  There is less availability of dissolved oxygen in the shallow waters.  

All these factors have led to drying up of wetlands. In some regions they are constantly under water. Many fish and bird species have become extinct. The number of migratory birds also decreases as there is less availability of food. In some regions, they have become waste lands as they cannot contain life anymore. ThiThis 

 This article clearly answers in basic terminology WHY wetlands are important. The migratory birds and various fish depend on people to keep the wetlands in a sustainable fashion for their livelihood.   It is easy to see that they need to be preserved and restored for their sake,  but even more importantly for OUR future.

Alabama SWaMP Land has stream mitigation credits available for stream restoration to maintain wetlands.  

Call J. Keith Maxwell at (334) 513-7333 for more information.



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