When people hear the word “wetland” they often think “swamp.” Or they think of someplace mucky, stinky, and gross. Many people envision wetlands as overrun by disease-carrying insects. As a result, they are often drained, dammed, filled in, and used as dumps. But the truth is, as with any ecosystem, that healthy wetlands have few insects, aren’t smelly, and are vital to the overall functioning of our interconnected world.
World Wetlands Day is a day to celebrate wetlands and bring attention to their importance. For example, did you know that wetlands store and clean fresh water? They do! A healthy wetland actually filters pollutants, working in much the same way kidneys do in the human body. Wetlands also act as a buffer against storms. Because they absorb water, they can help prevent flooding downstream. On coastlines, wetlands act as a buffer between storms and the mainland. Even more importantly in today’s world, wetlands capture and store carbon. In fact, peatlands, marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds store more carbon than forests. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you of the value of wetlands, they are home to 40% of Earth’s species.
Learn more about wetlands here. Better still, go visit a wetland near you. There’s a lot to see and celebrate.