Important? Wetlands? You mean those stinky muddy places we drain so we can put up strip malls and subdivisions?
The very same. Whether you call them marshes, fens, swamps, sloughs, or bogs, wetlands hold some of the richest biodiversity on Earth. Just so long as we leave them unpaved, that is.
Did you know:
Wetlands are a major source of clean drinking water. They capture, store, and filter water for surrounding ecosystems. They replenish groundwater reserves.
Wetlands provide a natural flood barrier. The devastating flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was partially a consequence of the loss of Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Wetlands absorb and buffer storm surges. A single acre can absorb more than a million gallons of stormwater.
Wetlands are essential to 95% of the commercially harvested fish and seafood species. Though we think of overfishing as harming those fisheries first, without strong wetlands the fisheries can't exist at all. In our area, for example, blue crab larvae must be able to move up the Chesapeake Bay to shallow eelgrass beds for protection from predators as they mature.
Wetlands provide food and nesting areas to half of North America's birds. They provide food and rest along migration routes.
Between 300 and 400 million people (including me!) live near and depend upon wetlands.
|Source: World Wildlife Fund|
Sources: National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund