On all the geographical regions on earth with the exception of Antarctica wetlands can be found. But these wetlands vary widely depending on the geographical location, climatic conditions. The general view of wetlands is those areas where the land is saturated with water. These are the areas that are inundated or saturated by the surface or ground water which support the biological life suitable for that condition.
I a crude sense wetlands are the areas where water is present throughout the year or most of the year near the soil surface driving variety of terrestrial and amphibious organisms. Several variants of plant life exists in the wetlands and many variety of birds are seen in the these regions only.Scope of wetlands:There is a great variation on the type of wetlands because of soil differences in topography, climate, water chemistry vegetarian, locality and many other factors. There is no definite shape for the wetlands and size too varies heavily. Generally wetlands include swamps, bogs, marshes and similar areas. The total are that is covered by the wetlands in the world is not know exactly. World conversation monitoring centre has suggested that about 570million hectors of the earth’s surface is covered with wetlands. This estimate is 6% of earth surface.
Of this 6% 2% are from lakes 30% bogs, 26% fens, 20% swamps and 15% floodplains. Wetlands are quite helpful in ways like improving water quality, reduce floods and storm damages, provide habitat for many species and other recreation activities .As the upper part of the soil is covered with water, soil organisms consume the oxygen in the soil which causes development of different soil characteristics called “hydric soils”.
These soils are unsuitable for plant life. The plants that grow under these conditions are called “hydrophytes”. The presence of this hydric soils and hydrophytes give clue to the wetlands. This may not be the clue always due to irregular rainfall pattern, dry seasons and droughts etc. These wetlands are among the world’s productive environment with a variety of biological diversity. They support many different kinds of birds mammals, reptiles, amphibians invertebrates species. Out of 20000 variety of species 40% leave in wetlands.
Values of Wetlands:The economic benefits that are due to wetlands are tremendous. The provide huge water supply and fisheries. They are very useful in agriculture. Wetlands are also a important place for plant genetic material.
Rice an important source of the staple food is common in wetlands. They have vast timber, energy resources, wildlife resources, transportation, recreation and tourism opportunities.Most popular wetlands like Everglades and Mississippi are often dry. And many lands are wet due to wet weather and natural fluctuations. Upstream dams, drainage ditches, dikes, irrigation modifications must also be considered in deciding about wetlands.
I total these wetlands can be considered as the mini ecosystem where many kinds of species depend upon. In the absence of these wetlands, all the countless species will be threatened as well as the wildlife and human population both ecologically and economically. That is the loss of the wetlands not only has a great effect on particular species but also on the whole human and animals life and thus the whole echo system.Loss of wetlands:Man has become a big threat to the ecosystem. He being the key agent in this process and have shown a significant impact on the wetlands and its conservation in the world. Common actions like dredging constructions, chemical contaminations from industries have led to the massive reduction in the wetlands.
Judy Braus, editor of National wildlife federation’s Nature Scope magazine said that most people really don’t think of the wetlands and if one made then think they will think in the manner to make wetlands more ‘productive.’ In the year 1600, over 220 million acres of wetland existed in US. From then due vast industrialization more than half of the original wetlands have been drained and converted to other uses. These losses particularly since 1950 have resulted in increased floods and drainage problems and have also shown a much negative effect on the native wildlife population.
In addition to human occupation other factors such as global warming, increasing temperatures have also caused a bad effect on wet lands. The rising sea levels due to high temperature changes have taken away much of the coastal wetlands. Droughts hurricanes are also other few factors.Effect of the loss of wetlands:The loss of these wetlands has a devastating effect on the native species of the wetlands.
Wetlands are the home of largest variety of biodiversity that is found on the planet. These species are a part of the food chain in many ways. Due to the threat to this ecosystem the whole system may be disturbed. Recently scientists have shown that the biological functions of the wetlands are useful in fighting the climate changes as wetlands harbor carbon within the plants( feature of many wetlands greenery) which means it is not released back into the air in the form of carbon dioxide.
As biodiversity is said to include heredity diversity , spcies diversity, echo system diversity and landscape diversity, if the wetlands are destroyed all the four diversities are also destroyed.Effects on human population:The loss of wetlands has also effected human population in a significant manner. Wetlands a one of the best source to protect humans from floods as they soak excess rain and surface water. Due to its natural property it absorbs water with even distribution and immediately sunk into the ground. In addition to this the height of the ground is leveled and soil erosion is controlled. These wetlands are also vital in areas near large body of water as they take in the energy of waves and change the wave currents near rivers or fast moving streams.
They also absorb many contaminants that find their way into the ground water there by purifying the water.The loss of these vital wetlands can have bad effect on the future of the world market also. Industries depends on the wetlands sources for many of its raw material, food items and trees for its wood etc. the pharmacy industry will also get affected due to the few medical plants and creatures available in the wetlands.Efforts to protect wetlands:With all of these combined factors that are getting effected due to loss of wetlands, proper measures have to be taken to conserve them. One of the ways in which this can be reduces is by providing incentives based on the economic ideas as people are more likely to save these resources if their bottom lines are impacted.
This is incentive based control is more common in agricultural sector this can also be applied to other fields also. All the solutions above can reduce wetlands losses to some extent. New efforts to restore and create the ecosystems are mitigating or ecological engineering, which provides opportunities for enhancing the ecosystem services to humans. One of the best way to restore wetland ecosystems is to convince the individuals and industries of their economic value. Environmental protection agencies EPA and US Army corps of engineers (corps) have set up regulations in 1970 to protect wetlands in North America. EPA and corps use the 1987 corps of engineers Wetlands Delineation manuals to define wetlands for Clean Air Act section 404 permit program. Many wetlands are regulated under this act in US.
Many environmental information centers were set up by different countries to counter the extinct of wetlands.References: http://www.ramsar.
org/about/about_infopack_1e.htm “An Extended Definition of Wetlands and the Impact of the Loss of Wetlands” Article Myraid. http://www.articlemyriad.com/37.htm “ Section 404 of Wetlands: How wetlands are defined and identified “ US Environmental protection agency.
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/facts/fact11.html http://www.nrpa.com/wetlands.htm http://www.fws.gov/nwi/ http://www.ducks.ca/resource/general/wetland/facts.html http://www.oregon.gov/DSL/WETLAND/wetlandfacts.shtml