Amelia Gomes  /   12/07/2022

All You Need To Know About Wetlands

Wetlands are a phenomenon many of us are only vaguely familiar with. You can get a pretty good idea of what it entails just from its name. But while it’s easy to come up with assumptions, they’re more intricate than you might think. As a  buyer, the idea of wetlands might be scary and confusing. This post is here to help you understand what wetlands are and all the advantages they bring! We hope that with this article you’ll be able to answer questions like, “What are the best ways I can use a wetland?” and “Can I build on wetlands?” 

Here at Community Lands, making cautions and sensible decisions about your property, for whichever use, is a top priority. We not only take you through the best ways to use your land but also help you understand how it affects the environment. This simple and helpful post is here to assist you through all you need to understand about wetlands in broken-down terms. Join us as we take you on an educational journey to learn about wetlands, their different types, benefits, and other useful information. Let’s go!

What Are Wetlands?  

Have you ever been to a place where a large percentage of the soil is covered by water? Some call these places swampy, and a lot of the time, they are never dry. That’s what wetlands are. Wetlands are areas where water fills the soil all year, intermittently, or during the growing season. Sometimes, these lots also have water present at the soil’s surface or near it.

The dual nature of wetlands makes it easy to find aquatic and terrestrial species. Many also refer to wetlands as the Earth’s kidneys because, like your kidneys, they play a crucial role in water filtration. Wetlands make water cleaner by trapping contaminants and sediments. They also help in the prevention of flooding and shoreline erosion.

What are their categories, and what do they entail?

There are two general categories of wetlands: coastal and inland. 

Coastal: As the name implies, you can find coastal wetlands along the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan, and Gulf coasts of the United States. These lots have a tight connection to United States estuaries, where fresh and saltwater mix to create a habitat with various salinities. This essence impacts the creatures around them. Plants, for instance, find the combination of salty water and varying water levels reasonably challenging. As a result, many shallow coastal areas are sand or mud flats with no vegetation. 

However, some coastal wetlands have proven to be exceptions. You’ll find that the tidal salt marshes along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts contain specific grasses and grass-like plants that can survive in salty environments. It’s vivid to see that these plants have successfully acclimated to this setting. Many mangrove swamps are also present in tropical climates. You’ll see many of those in Puerto Rico and southern Florida. It’s important to note that a few tidal freshwater lots develop past the upper limits of tidal salt marshes, where the impact of saltwater ends.

Inland: On the other hand, these lands are secluded depressions surrounded by dry land located anywhere along the edges of lakes and ponds. This category of wetlands also exists in low-lying regions where groundwater intercepts the soil surface. Those are the most common types of inland wetlands. Inland wetlands include shrub and tree-dominated swamps, shrub-dominated marshes and wet meadows, and tree and shrub-dominated woodland swamps. 

Keep in mind, many wetlands are seasonal. This means many wetlands are dry for one or more seasons each year and may only sometimes be wet in the arid and semiarid West. The amount of water present and when its present influence a wetland’s functions and place in the environment. Even those that appear dry for long periods of the year, such as vernal pools, provide vital habitats for animals that breed only in these places.

The Advantages of Wetlands

Knowing what wetlands are and how to carefully use and protect them has various positive effects. From helping preserve natural wetlands to maximizing their uses and reducing their losses, these benefits have provided various opportunities. These advantages can provide economic, artistic, educational, societal, and recreational advances. Here are our favorites: 

Better water quality: As we mentioned before, wetlands are also called the Earth’s kidneys. Water becomes cleaner as it passes through because the contaminants and sediments are trapped. These lands can catch surface runoff before it enters open water and filter contaminants via biological, chemical, and physical processes. It’s safe to call them nature’s filter. In light of this, they offer an affordable substitute for conventional wastewater and stormwater treatment methods. 

Erosion prevention: They also help reduce flooding and prevent shoreline erosion. Shorelines and streambanks are shielded from erosion by riparian wetlands, salt marshes, and lake margin marshes. In addition, wetland plants’ roots stabilize the soil and slow down river or stream currents. 

Natural water source: Wetlands can favor water supply by acting as watershed reservoirs and discharging stored water into surface and groundwater.

Recreation: You can engage in a lot of outdoor activities on wetlands. From hiking and fishing to bird watching, photography, and hunting, wetlands have the resources for people to explore all these fun activities and more!

Aesthetic Value: These lands have a particular aesthetic appeal, and many people frequently use them as design elements in landscape plans. 

Wetland Maps

Wetland maps come to play to ensure the safety and effective management of wetlands. These maps are necessary for wetland inventories. They facilitate the planning, management, protection, and restoration of wetlands. You’ll find information about their type, location, and size from these maps. In-depth wetland maps are essential for analyzing the impact of projects at particular locations. They also help in providing baseline spatial data for the evaluation of the effects of national policies and actions.

Local, state, and federal agencies use wetland maps to develop comprehensive resource management plans, environmental impact assessments, natural resource inventories, habitat surveys, and the analysis of trends in wetland status. Private industries and organizations are also not left out of these activities.

Now that you know there’s so much more to wetlands than just slimy swamps and frogs jumping around, it’s important to remember how vital green choices are. Now more than ever! They are important not only for the environment but also for the people who live in them. Cities and towns can prevent environmental hazards such as flooding and erosion. So next time you come across wetlands, you can appreciate the immense green potential it carries and celebrate the many lives they can save.

To learn more about how to be the most efficient and environmentally-friendly land owner you can be, visit the Community Lands’ Learn Center.

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