The Importance of Wetlands
Did you know that wetlands are an important ecosystem that provide benefits for fish, wildlife and even people? They protect and improve water quality, buffer storm surges, and even provide habitats for fish and wildlife. The functions of wetlands and the values of each of these functions to people is important and sustaining the delicate wetland ecosystem is not only important to animals but also people. Let’s learn a little more about the importance of wetlands.
Nature Depends on Wetlands
If you compare the efficiency of wetlands to other ecosystems in the world like rain forests, wetlands are the most productive. There is a huge diversity of life that exists in them from microbes and insects to reptiles and mammals. There is a dynamic and complex relationship between the organisms that live in these unique ecosystems and the actual environment. Wetlands are like huge hotel resorts filled with all the resources in a huge supermarket. This means there is a lot of food and shelter that attracts a wide variety of different animal species. These animals rely on the wetlands for food, water, shelter and even a migratory stop. In addition, they even store carbon in their plants and soil instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the environment and can impact global climate conditions.
Wetlands provide a valuable service to people including natural water quality improvement, shoreline erosion control, flood protection and recreation. People use plants that grow in wetlands for medicine, enjoy the fish, shellfish, rice and berries for food, and even enjoy some of the animals for fur and hides like mink and alligators.
One of the most important functions that the wetlands provide is flood protection. They act as sponges and help to trap surface water, rain, groundwater and flood waters. The trees and vegetation help to slow the speed of flood waters and distribute it more evenly across floodplains. They are natural barriers for hurricanes and flooding by slowing the storm surge down and holding flood waters.