Posted by: ahowland | 15th Feb, 2011

Living on Wetlands

Wetlands are a fundamental part of the environment. They provide many essential services and benefits to both humans and the environment. For instance, wetlands actually clean water that comes through it and they are used in many locations alongside wastewater treatment plants. They also act like a buffer against raging waters since they can absorb a lot of incoming water that hits them and prevent flooding; they also can store excess water for long periods of time, provide many recreational uses, and are home to 1/3 of endangered species. Wetlands are an integral part of the environment and humans are destroying them by draining them and/or converting them to other uses. In the 1600s, over 220 million acres of wetlands existed in the contiguous US. Since then, the US has got rid of over half of all of its wetlands. In 1954-1974 the US lost roughly 458,000 acres of wetlands, the worst in its history. A lot of places have been built on converted wetlands, removing their important benefits from that area (storm surge protection decreases, groundwater decreases, shoreline erosion, and increased flooding and erosion are all effects of wetland loss) and the disaster of Katrina in Louisiana definitely shows how much wetland loss effects us. Places like that all over the world are losing wetlands to keep up with the growing population. In fact, part my own neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia was built on a small wetland. Off to the side of my neighborhood, part of the wetland remains intact where it was too swampy to build on. But my own house is on top of the wetland, and you can definitely tell it’s a wetland because when it rains, it stays wet forever in my backyard. Learning everything that I have about wetlands and the environment in college has shocked me to realize that I actually live on one. Like everything else, humans have taken advantage of the environment and destroyed millions of acres and ecosystems for their own profit. But I am very happy to say that we have at least learned better than to keep draining wetlands. Not only has the US stopped draining wetlands but we have actually restored some of them and are now at a rate of gaining wetlands instead of losing them. Videos such as this help inform people about wetland’s useful effects and show that wetland restoration is a success. This just shows that we can indeed learn from our mistakes in the past and fix things, restoring them to their former potential.

Responses

Great personal account of discovering what is a wetland (vs a swamp) and why it matters.

Thank you! Yes, I was pretty surprised when I learned I that I actually live on a wetland, especially after learning about them in your class.

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