Wetlands are one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the earth.
The Cradle of Species Diversity
LAKES, rivers, mangroves, coral reefs and other wetlands have long been the cornerstone of humanity, providing the necessary physical, cultural and spiritual sustenance to ensure the survival of people and communities. Wetlands provide many important environmental functions. In addition to providing habitat for a diversity of plant and animal species, wetlands also recharge ground water supply acting as a reservoir for fresh water. Wetlands also act as a buffer to moderate flooding, reduce erosion and purify water. Erosion of this fragile ecosystem, pollution, and other major forms of environmental stress, have been a problem long before the oil spill that threatens fragile, resource–rich Louisiana wetlands. Today, however, threats, such as pollution, habitat destruction, siltation and encroachment for business and human settlement, among others, have caused the widespread degradation of these important and fragile ecosystems.
- Coastal marshes– Mainly defined by soil and vegetation type
- Constructed wetlands, environmental mitigation or mitigation banking
- Ecotourism : nature–based tourism focusing on wildlife and the landscape, such as bird–watching and photography.
- Function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters.
- Natural Vegetative Solutions
- Provide habitat for a high percentage of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals.
- Regulate storm surge
- Serve as a large filter, dirty water passes into the wetland and clean water is the final result.
- Serve as a purification system. Water moves slowly through the wetland and the soil and the plants pick up the nutrients and contaminants and clean the water.
- Two forms: freshwater and coastal (or
Wetlands invite the use of more natural vegetative solutions for erosion control and a greater emphasis on project aesthetics than in other types of erosion control projects.Natural wetland buffers should be used to intercept nutrients before they reach the coast (provided this does not cause a different set of problems in the interior), and the construction of engineered treatment wetlands should be considered … read more
A design goal for a wetland protection project should be to use the minimum amount of structural protection necessary. Innovation is often the key to an appealing and successful project.
A wetland can remove up to 90% of sediments, nutrients and bacteria from stormwater.
There are several types of wetlands, depending on where they are located and the chemical makeup of the water in them. In most cases, wetlands form an intermediate area between a large body of water such as an ocean or lake and dry land, although some inland wetlands form in areas isolated from bodies of water.
Wetlands tend to form in areas of low ground, which accumulates water readily, and if allowed to thrive without disruption, they have numerous positive affects on the natural environment.
Climate Ready Estuaries Program works with the
National Estuary Programs and the coastal management community to : assess climate change vulnerabilities; develop and implement adaptation strategies ; and engage and educate stakeholders.
Any time work which involves disturbance of the ground is proposed within a wetland, or within 100 feet of a wetland, a permit must be granted by the local conservation commission prior to the work being done.
Obtaining a permit requires that the wetland be delineated, located by survey, and shown on a plan.
The plan must also show the location of the proposed work, the nature of the proposed work, and the methods which will be used to protect the wetlands from erosion or disturbance during construction.
Sometimes, vegetative techniques alone cannot provide adequate protection of wetlands, and they must be combined with other alternatives.
In some instances the work will require disturbance or alteration of the wetlands themselves.
OTHERWISE, A WETLANDS VIOLATION MAYBE ISSUED.
Aquatic Buffers serve as natural boundaries between local waterways and existing development. They help:
- buffers include flood control, stream bank stabilization (thereby reducing erosion problems), and stream temperature control
- help limit the damage from flood events that damage property, contaminates drinking water and impairs community uses of local brooks, lakes and ponds.
- protect water quality by filtering pollutants, sediment, and nutrients from runoff
- protect both waterway morphology and the room for lateral movement of the stream channel and offer aquatic resources for mitigation banks.
- Wetlands can remove up to 90% of sediments, nutrients and bacteria from stormwater
Riparian buffer strips are areas of trees or shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. They intercept pollutants before they reach surface and ground water, stop shoreline erosion and provide havens for a number of wildlife and aquatic organisms.
Shelterbelts, also called windbreaks, are usually single or multiple rows of trees or shrubs planted perpendicular to prevailing winds that provide protection from wind and snow. These buffers can protect wildlife, farmsteads, cropland, and livestock. They can also dampen noise and beautify the landscape.
The Convention on Wetlands
The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 138 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1370 wetland sites, totaling 119.6 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.