Wetlands are sometimes referred to as the kidneys of the landscape because they function as the receivers of waste and filters of water from both natural and human sources. Different types of wetlands provide a wide range of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are free benefits to humans that natural and healthy environments provide. Direct services that wetlands provide include food, clean water, and flood reduction because they function like a sponge by trapping and slowly releasing water. Wetland vegetation like trees, roots, and moss slow the speed of flood waters distributing the water more evenly over the floodplain.  

An ecosystem service of natural environments that is often overlooked is cultural benefits. Spiritual enrichment, recreation, education, and cultural heritage are ecosystem services for humans that are difficult to quantify. Wetlands also contribute a variety of supporting ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and primary productivity. 

To help community members and policymakers understand the value of protecting wetland ecosystems, scientists have found ways to put dollar amounts on ecosystem services. For example, from a study completed in 2011, researchers determined that one hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) of inland swap/floodplains has an economic value of $25,691 per year. An independent study from Earth Economics estimates that freshwater wetlands in the Puget Sound region alone could be worth more than $10 billion to Washington’s economy. If we want to manage resources, we have to prove their worth.

Here at SHADOW, we steward several different types of freshwater wetlands across the 100-acre Nature Preserve including Shadow Lake Bog. Wildlife like birds and mammals, rely on these wetlands for food, water and shelter, especially during migration and breeding. SHADOW’s wetlands provide habitat to native animals, provide clean water, and enrich our lives. Save Habitat and Diversity of Wetlands (SHADOW) will always be committed to protecting these special, natural resources. 

 Learn More:  Ecosystem Services of Wetlands 
Functions & Values of Wetlands