Importance of Wetlands and Their Conservation


Wetlands provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits. They provide primary products such as pastures, timber, food and support recreational and tourist activities. Wetlands likewise help reduce the effects of storm damage and flooding, keep up great water quality in streams and rivers, recharge groundwater, store carbon, help sustain climatic conditions and control pests. They are also important sites for biodiversity.

Wetlands provide a source of water for irrigation, livestock rearing and for domestic consumption. They also support sustainable forestry and nursery area for juveniles of commercially valuable fish species. Wetlands also offer tourism and recreational activities such as boating, swimming, camping, fishing and bird watching. Wetlands improve water quality by trapping sediments, filtering out pollutants and absorbing nutrients. Wetlands reduce the risk of flooding by slowing down the movement of flood waters.

About 9% of the earth’s surface is covered by wetlands and are estimated to contain around 35% of terrestrial carbon. They act as sinks for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves and salt marsh have the highest rate of greenhouse gas sequestration. Salt marsh can bury 1.5 tonnes of organic carbon and mangroves on an average of 1.39 tonnes per hectare per year. This highlights the importance of conserving wetlands in helping to limit the impact of climate change.

Wetlands offer vital spots for scientific research and also play an important role in educating people about biodiversity and natural processes. Wetlands are used by people to learn about its ecological importance and other benefits and services they provide to the community. Wetlands are also home to many exotic species of plants, birds, fish and frogs. They provide habitat to rare and endangered wildlife species and are also an important stopover for many migratory birds.

With so many benefits to offer, wetlands are vulnerable to over-exploitation. The rate of loss and deterioration is accelerating and the need to conserve our most efficient ecosystem is essential.

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