According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), approximately 7% of the world’s total mass is covered by a special type of habitat called wetlands. Wetlands are traditionally waterlogged from nearby water sources and rain, and act as a barrier that protects the environment in different ways.
Want to know facts about wetlands? Wetlands are one of the most naturally diverse biomes in the world. Unfortunately, statistics say that the natural wetland is also one of the most threatened environments (and is in need of dire protection).
Wetlands are very important to a sustainable Earth. The average wetland area is a habitat for animals, plants, and smaller organisms – which without, these creatures wouldn’t be able to flourish.
More than just a habitat, wetlands also serve a practical function by acting as a filter for water (and as protection against storms and erosion).
Wetlands should be thought of as protective, and be protected.
Did you know that a single stretch of wetland can retain up to 1.5 million gallons of water?
There are a lot of other things you might not have known about wetlands before, like that the 2nd of February is international wetlands day!
Here are 19 fascinating facts about wetlands.
1. The 2nd of February is World Wetlands Day.
International Wetlands Day (or World Wetlands Day) is celebrated each year on the 2nd of February to promote awareness of this very important habitat all over the world.
Wetlands are an important source of sustainable life and environmental protection. At least once a year, it’s encouraged to think about how wetlands can be protected for the future (and of course, to put these plans into practical action).
Have you done your bit for the protection of the world’s wetlands?
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2. Wetlands are important for clean water.
Wetlands aren’t just important as a source of life, but also vital because they act as one of nature’s filter systems.
A combination of the plants and soil in your average wetland helps to filter impurities out of the water that comes through it. It is partially thanks to the wetlands of the world that we have cleaner water in rivers and lakes.
Without this vital wetland barrier, water quality would decline in any nearby areas.
We need wetlands, and wetlands need us.
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3. 300 to 400 million people live close to the world’s wetlands.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately 300 to 400 million people live close to (or near to) the world’s wetlands.
To put this number into perspective, 400 million is the same as the estimated United States population – in the year 2039!
Wetlands are vital for the plants and animals that surround it. But let’s always remember that the presence of wetlands is just as important for people!
People are far more reliant on the livelihood of wetlands than they realize. Wetlands are vital for crops (e.g. rice farming) but also vital for environmental conditions and social reasons.
4. The legal definition of a wetland is a transitional ground between water and land.
The official legal definition of a wetland is a transitional ground that separates water and land – and a land mass that is covered with water either for a full year or partially.
The legal definition of a wetland area is important for the use of official resources, but also for research into the field.
Environmental and social departments rely on the legal definition of what a wetland is anywhere it’s mentioned in court or paperwork.
Basically, in order to save the wetlands, it’s important to know exactly what they are.
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5. Wetlands act as a barrier against storms and natural disaster.
Wetlands exist for many important reasons, and one of them is a form of protection against storms and natural disaster that might strike the area.
Natural disaster can sweep an area clean, with disastrous consequences for the environment that will take years (even decades) to repair.
A wetland can reduce the impact an area feels in the event of natural disaster.
Wetlands absorb water from storms, while also breaking their impact against the ground. In this way, the environmental impact of a storm isn’t as much as it would have been without the wetland.
The protection of this natural habitat is more protective than most people realize!
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6. Wetlands drive an international industry.
Wetlands are one of the most important industries in the world, with many businesses directly reliant on their livelihood.
Rice is one example of a crop that cannot exist without access to wetlands. While there are many things that won’t flourish in the middle of a wetland – but rice, thankfully, does.
Wetlands also support up to 80% of United States fisheries, an example of another industry that cannot exist without the livelihood of the world’s wetlands.
What would happen to the world if wetlands continue to be affected at the speed they are now?
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7. Wetlands control erosion
Wetlands act as a barrier against storms, but also as an anchor for the soil where it separates from the water. Wetlands have one more benefit for the environment: the control of erosion over a long period of time.
Erosion can cause landslides, and that’s just one unfortunate ecological disaster linked to land erosion.
More wetlands guarantee that the level of erosion is less, and the surrounding environment is protected against potential harm.
Wetlands aren’t just pretty, but vitally important.
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8. Peat wetlands are a source of carbon.
Peat wetlands (or peatlands) are a subtype of wetland that causes the ground material to decompose at a faster rate than normal. Ideal conditions in this specific wetland lead to the formation of what’s called peat, a high-carbon type of natural compost.
Peat is rich in plant nutrients, and a high source of carbon thanks to the decomposed plants it contains.
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9. A single wetland can contain up to 1.5 million gallons of water
Wetlands are called wet because of the amounts of water they collect and retain. While they can be large or small, the average wetland can contain up to 1.5 million gallons of water at a time.
A large swimming pool by comparison can hold up to 1 million gallons of water instead. That’s a whole lot of water at once!
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10. The Ramsar Convention protects the world’s wetlands.
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that exists to protect the environment and promote eco-friendliness, specifically for the world’s wetlands.
The convention was first signed into action in 1971, and it keeps track of the world’s designated wetland areas.
This is done for their identification, but also for their sustainable protection.
Other organizations (such as the UN) often use the Ramsar Convention as a reference.
If there’s anything specific you would like to know about a wetland biome of the world, Ramsar is the best resource to find it.
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11. Fifa Nature Reserve is known as the world’s lowest wetland area.
The Fifa Nature Reserve is located in Jordan, and it was first declared as an important wetland area according to the Ramsar Convention in April, 2017.
Its role as a nature reserve began in 2011, when it was declared a reserve by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.
It is officially known as the lowest wetland on Earth.
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12. The Heuningnes Estuary is the smallest Ramsar wetland in South Africa.
There are wetlands everywhere in the world, and each continent has their own special biomes to protect. South Africa has the Heuningnes Estuary, considered the smallest wetland in South Africa according to the Ramsar Ranking.
Diverse in life, many species of unique birds, animals, plants, and insects call the Heuningnes Estuary their home.
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13. Llanos de Moxos is the world’s largest protected wetland.
The Llanos de Moxos wetlands are located in Bolivia, and the official site of the world’s largest wetland according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Due to its size, the Llanos de Moxos is one of the most important areas for protecting the surroundings against storms and erosion.
Bolivia is often hailed for its environmentally protective efforts. The Llanos de Moxos is kept very well protected throughout the year thanks to this.
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14. Wetlands cover 14% of Canada’s total land area.
The total area of Canada measures 9, 985 million km – though according to statistics, wetlands cover as much as 14% of Canada’s total land mass.
The importance of wetlands cannot be underestimated.
They are located everywhere in the world, and their function protects the environment around it.
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15. Wetlands are ideal for certain crops, and the world’s rice production depends on it.
Wetlands aren’t just important for fisheries, but rice farming too. Rice is an international industry, and Americans alone consume 20 pounds of rice per year in the average household.
Rice is one of the world’s most widely consumed staple foods. More than two-thirds of the world rely on rice!
Without wetlands, this would not be possible.
Did you imagine that wetlands had such an impact on the world’s food supply?
A lot of people can go a lifetime before realizing it!
16. According to the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, wetlands are the most affected biome in the world.
Wetlands are extremely important, but according to statistics from the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, wetlands are some of the most heavily affected biomes in the world.
Environmental damage affects the wetland environment most of all.
That is why the wetland biome remains one of the most important ones to protect.
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17. There are also other names for a wetland.
Wetlands are not just called wetlands, but might also be known by other names specific to the area where they are found.
Natural wetlands can also be called billabongs – as they are in Australia – or turloughs – as they’re called in Ireland.
These habitat names still describe types of wetlands, but have environmentally become known as such over long periods of time thanks to linguistics and locals.
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18. Wetlands are a rich source of life, even plankton!
Wetlands are one of the most supportive habitat types of all, with thousands of different types of life to be found in the average wetland area.
From animals to insects, wetlands are also often home to different types of algae that include filamentous algae and plankton!
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19. There is a worldwide effort to restore international wetlands.
Wetlands all over the world are protected areas, and more countries are taking the right steps to ensure these important environments stay safe.
Worldwide projects and charities exist for the longevity of the world’s wetlands.
If you want to do your part, contribute a donation or your time to one of the many international wetland conservation/preservation projects. It’s the eco-friendly thing to do!