Wetlands: What are they good for?

February 2, 2023
Rebecca Kolarich

World Wetlands Day: 02/02/23

What are they?

The National Geographic defines wetland as “an area of land that is either covered by water or saturated with water.”1 Wetlands are unique in a sense that they combine both terrestrial and aquatic habitat. They are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world but unfortunately, are often overlooked. They provide many services for humans and wildlife, such as:

  • protecting and improving water quality
  • soil stabilization
  • flood mitigation
  • carbon storage
  • providing crucial habitat for hundreds of species
  • contributing to the economy
Red-winged blackbird by Ashley Inguanta on Unsplash

What lives in wetlands?

Many species rely on wetlands. Some creatures only spend apart of their life in wetlands, others are born and live their entire lives within these unique ecosystems. Wildlife that are commonly found in wetlands include:

  • amphibians
  • fish
  • mammals
  • aquatic insects
  • invertebrates
  • reptiles
  • plants
  • birds (#DYK 100+ species of birds make use of Canadian wetlands)

Wetlands in Ontario

Wetlands cover about 13% of land in Canada. Most of them can be found in Manitoba, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and right here in Ontario. Sadly, a whopping 72% of southern Ontario’s wetlands have already been lost through human activity such as land clearing for commercial and agricultural development. Another sad fact is that out of the two-fifths ofOntario’s original remaining wetlands, many are under serious threat from new government proposals and development.

Protecting wetlands: what can we do?

By protecting wetlands, we will protect the many services that they provide to us and the natural world. With climate change on the rise, wetlands are becoming more important than ever before.

We need to educate ourselves and the people around us on the importance of wetlands. We must get rid of the mistaken notion that these ecosystems have no use. Rally behind and support conservation groups, and other agencies in their efforts to preserve our remaining wetlands!

Wetland by Landon Parenteau on Unsplash

1. National Geographic Society, 2022. Wetlands
2. Ontario Wildlife Foundation, 2021. Ontario’s Wetlands

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