Wetlands are unique environments where water saturation is the dominant factor determining natural flora and fauna. They aren't just swampy areas; they include marshes, peatlands, and flood plains.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs. They support high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrate species.
Wetlands as Buffers
Wetlands act as natural sponges, absorbing and storing excess rainfall, reducing flood risks. They also serve as buffers, filtering pollutants and sediment from water, improving quality downstream.
Peatlands, a type of wetland, store more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined. They hold up to one-third of the world's terrestrial carbon, mitigating climate change.
Despite their importance, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests due to drainage for agriculture, urban development, and climate change, leading to loss of biodiversity and increased carbon emissions.
Wetlands provide services worth trillions of dollars yearly, through water filtration, storm protection, flood control, and as nurseries for fish and other aquatic species crucial for commercial fishing.
International efforts like the Ramsar Convention aim to halt wetland loss and promote wise use, recognizing the critical role of wetlands in sustaining both biodiversity and human life.