Our world is facing several environmental challenges and sometimes, it’s difficult to keep track of each one of them. Most of the time, people and the media focus on climate change, plastic pollution, and deforestation.

But, did you know that wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests? Even though these ecosystems are essential regulators of the global climate and home to many rare species, they’re often undervalued.

After reading this article, you’ll discover why wetlands are important for mankind and the environment. So, let’s dive right in!

What are Wetlands?

According to the World Wildlife Fund, wetlands are areas flooded with water, either salt, fresh, or somewhere in between. And they can be covered by water either seasonally or permanently. These areas include salt marshes, ponds, mangrove swamps, estuaries, coral reefs, and other ecosystems.

Why are Wetlands Important?

Now that you know what wetlands are, let’s check what makes these ecosystems so important:

Support Biodiversity

Wetlands are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet.

They provide shelter and serve as nurseries for an incredible variety of species, particularly rare and endangered ones. Besides, many plants have adapted to thrive in their fertile and waterlogged lands, so they could only be found in these ecosystems.

That’s why wetlands are crucial to maintaining an ecological balance!

Fight Climate Change

Wetlands might cover a small portion of the planet, but they play a big role in fighting climate change. You’ll be surprised to know that these ecosystems can store 50 times more carbon than rainforests!

In other words, wetlands keep this greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and prevent it from contributing to climate change.

Provide Ecosystem Services that Benefit Humanity

That’s right, we can also benefit directly or indirectly from wetlands. Not only do these ecosystems provide us with foods like rice, but they can also remove pollutants from water and make it safe for consumption. Likewise, they provide us with energy, raw materials, and genetic resources for medicines.

Moreover, their beautiful natural areas are great options for recreation and tourism!

But that’s not all, wetlands can even reduce disaster risk. And that’s because they’re the best natural protection against floods, soil erosion, droughts, and storms.

What Percentage of the Earth’s Wetlands Have Disappeared?

Although wetlands provide several environmental and economic benefits, they’re disappearing three times faster than forests!

According to the UNFCCC, available data shows that around 35% of the world’s wetlands were lost between 1970 and 2015, while some researchers estimate that at least 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900!

Unfortunately, wetlands are expected to keep disappearing. If you’d like to discover what’s driving this loss and what you can do to prevent it, don’t miss the second part of this blog post:

A World without Wetlands: Why are They Disappearing? (Part 2)




September 30, 2023 — Debby McKnight