Wetlands are truly amazing places. Where land meets water, there’s more wildlife than almost anywhere else on the planet.
However, they’re not just good for wildlife; wetlands are essential to humans too. Around 3 billion people obtain their drinking water directly from freshwater wetlands. They can also help purify water, provide food and control flooding.
Sadly, over 50% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900; drained for agriculture, developed for housing and industry, or destroyed by pollution.
What is a ‘Wetland’?
Wetlands are areas of land that are often soaked with water for at least part of the year. There are many different types of wetland, including rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps and bogs, but also some woodlands and grasslands. There are over 1,000 hectares of wetland in the Tame Valley.
Why are wetlands important?
Wetlands have many important functions (‘ecosystem services’) that benefit both people and wildlife. Wetlands:
- Provide habitat and connectivity for a wide variety of wildlife.
- Filter and purify water as it flows through the wetland system.
- Act like sponges to collect and hold flood waters.
- Absorb wind and tidal forces and reduce the effects of erosion.
- Provide places of beauty, relaxation and recreational activities – improving our health and well-being and generating tourism.
So not only do wetlands provide a home for a huge number of species, including many of our most rare and endangered, but they also greatly benefit society and our economy too.