What do wetlands give us? Why keep them around? Among other benefits, wetlands improve our water quality in many different ways.
Healthy wetlands store and filter nutrients, sediments, pollutants, metals, harmful bacteria, and acids preventing them from entering our waterways. They do this by slowing down flow, storing, and processing the contaminants from sewage, erosion, runoff, and dumping. Human activity, such as agriculture, increases nitrogen, phosphorus, and pesticide levels in runoff entering our watershed. Wetlands absorb these chemicals and then spread them into plants and other organisms which break them down into less impactful compounds. These compounds, in manageable levels, become a part of natural nutrient cycles.
Although wetlands filter water through microbes and soil, they also improve our water quality with prevention. Wetlands act as an absorbent buffer during excess rain periods which prevents pollutants from entering our waterways. They also prevent fires from spreading because of their water capacity and can stop a fire in its tracks.
Along with improving local bodies of water, wetlands also store atmospheric carbon which helps moderate climate conditions around the globe. Instead of releasing an overwhelming amount of greenhouse gases, they allow a slow and manageable level to occupy the atmosphere. Because of the high nutrient capacity, wetlands are ideal for biodiversity. They allow flora and fauna to flourish. Microbes and algae act as biofilters of pollutants as well as foundation for the food web throughout wetland habitats.
Whether its sediment filtration, hazard protection, carbon sequestration, or biodiversity, these ecosystem services wetlands provide are an undoubtable benefit and should urge their conservation.