Why Are Wetlands Important?

Wetlands are important for so many reasons:

The Role of Wetlands in an Ecosystem
Wetlands prevent flooding by holding water much like a sponge. By doing so, wetlands help keep river levels normal and filter and purify the surface water. 

Wetlands accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water.

A Marsh in Scotland
Wetlands also release vegetative matter into rivers, which helps feed fish in the rivers. Wetlands help to counter balance the human effect on rivers by rejuvenating them and surrounding ecosystems. 

Many animals that live in other habitats use wetlands for migration or reproduction. For example, herons nest in large old trees, but need shallow areas in order to wade for fish and aquatic life. Amphibians often forage in upland areas but return to the water to mate and reproduce.

While wetlands are truly unique, they must not be thought of as isolated and independent habitat. To the contrary, wetlands are vital to the health of all other biomes and to wildlife and humans everywhere. 

Unlike most other habitats, wetlands directly improve other ecosystems. Because of its many cleansing benefits, wetlands have been compared to kidneys. The analogy is good one. Wetlands and kidneys both help control water flow and cleanse the system.

Erosion Control
Looking at pictures of deltas, one can tell that rivers deposit a lot of sediment into the ocean. The sediment is from top soil that has been eroded and washed away. 

Emergents (plants firmly rooted in the muddy bottom but with stalks that rise high above the water surface) are able to radically slow the flow of water. As a result, they counter the erosive forces of moving water along lakes and rivers, and in rolling agricultural landscapes. Erosion control efforts in aquatic areas often include the planting of wetlands plants.

Wetlands and Water Purification
Wetlands also clean the water by filtering out sedimentation, decomposing vegetative matter and converting chemicals into useable form. 

The ability of wetlands to recycle nutrients makes them critical in the overall functioning of earth. No other ecosystem is as productive, nor as unique in this conversion process. In some places artificial wetlands were developed solely for the purpose of water purification. 

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