What are wetlands?
Wetlands are places that are saturated with water, either salt or fresh. Wetlands include areas on the edges of larger water bodies including lakes, oceans, bayous, rivers and deltas. There are also wetlands that are independent from bodies of water, but remain saturated seasonally or year around. You can read more about wetland types from NOAA here and from the EPA here.
Benefits of Wetlands
Wetlands are beneficial for wildlife and human health for many reasons. They provide natural water filtration, storm protection, and flood control. They also support the breeding grounds for most aquatic life, and many bird species.
The Destruction of Wetlands
Wetlands are often destroyed in land development projects, harmed by pollution events from industry and susceptible to being destroyed with land subsidence and sea level rise. When wetlands are destroyed, the land is less able to absorb water. This causes communities to become more susceptible to flooding and storm surges. "Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water for their citizens, floods are more devastating to nearby communities, storm surges from hurricanes can penetrate farther inland, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted, along with livelihoods." Read more about the destruction of wetlands from World Wildlife Fund here.
How are wetlands protected?
In the US, many states have regulations that help to protect wetlands. The Clean Water Act is the primary federal protection legislation, through it five federal agencies are charged with protecting various aspects of the wetland health, "The [Army] Corps' duties are related to navigation and water supply. The EPA's authorities are related to protecting wetlands primarily for their contributions to the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. The [Fish and Wildlife Services'] authorities are related to managing fish and wildlife-game species and threatened and endangered species. Wetland authority of NOAA lies in its charge to manage the Nation's coastal resources. The NRCS focuses on wetlands affected by agricultural activities." Read more on USGS's page on legislation here.
Federally and regionally there are many groups who work on wetland protections. You can read about how groups like Healthy Gulf work to protect wetlands in places they are threatened such as Louisiana.
Wetlands Monitoring Activities
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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Here are some Public Lab projects that have been dedicated to the monitoring and protecting of wetlands:
- The Barataria Mapping Project: https://publiclab.org/wiki/barataria-bay-mapping-project
- The New Orleans Urban Water Mapping Project: https://publiclab.org/wiki/urban-waters-mapping-nola