Skip to Content

19 Fascinating Facts About Wetlands

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.

Great White Pelicans in Wetland

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?

See Related: Best Books on Pollution

2. Wetlands are important for clean water.

Panoramic View of the Lake Wenatchee and Dirtyface Mountain

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.

See Related: Best Posters on Saving Earth

3. 300 to 400 million people live close to the world’s wetlands.

Property Near Lake

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.

See Related: Most Ethical Gemstones: Is Mining Ethically Possible?

4. The legal definition of a wetland is a transitional ground between water and land.

Marsh Land with bodies of water

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.

See Related: Most Beautiful Eco-Friendly Area Rugs

5. Wetlands act as a barrier against storms and natural disaster.

Fishing Boats in Stormy Ocean Waters

Wetlands exist for many important reasons, and one of them is a form of protection against storms and natural disasters that might strike the area.

Natural disasters can sweep an area clean, with disastrous environmental consequences that will take years (even decades) to repair. A wetland can reduce the impact an area feels in the event of a natural disaster.

Wetlands absorb water from storms, 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!

See Related: Best Energy Efficient Electric Fireplaces

6. Wetlands drive an international industry.

Realistic wetland ecosystem premium photo on our endangered world.

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 – 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?

See Related: Best Conservation Posters

7. Wetlands control erosion

erosion control products

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.

See Related: Are Coffee Filters Compostable?

8. Peat wetlands are a source of carbon.

Egret Bird in Wetland

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.

See Related: Is Rainwater Harvesting Worth It?

9. A single wetland can contain up to 1.5 million gallons of water

Swamp area with green vegetation on the surface

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!

See Related: Best Composting Books You Need to Know

10. The Ramsar Convention protects the world’s wetlands.

Go green, business meeting and people on tablet screen for sustainable project, eco friendly investment and growth. Paperless or vegan presentation, sustainability and man speaker speaking to clients
M Bam/ / Adobe Stock

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.

See Related: Best Eco-Friendly Water Bottles to Buy

11. Fifa Nature Reserve is the world’s lowest wetland area.

Huge Natterjack in a marsh

The Fifa Nature Reserve is located in Jordan, and it was first declared 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.

See Related: Most Eco-Friendly Baseboard Heaters

12. The Heuningnes Estuary is the smallest Ramsar wetland in South Africa.

Leech in marsh water

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.

See Related: Types of Water Pollution You Need to Know

13. Llanos de Moxos is the world’s largest protected wetland.

Mountains surrounding Euphrates river
SJ Travel Footage / Adobe Stock

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.

See Related: Amazing Sustainable Swimwear

14. Wetlands cover 14% of Canada’s total land area.

Man rowing boat in Euphrates
Faris / Adobe Stock

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 protect the environment around it.

See Related: Fascinating Facts About Conservation

15. Wetlands are ideal for certain crops, and the world’s rice production depends on it.

Rich biodiversity in Habay, Belgique
Coralie Meurice / Unsplash

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!

See Related: World’s Largest National Parks You Won’t Believe Exist

16. According to the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, wetlands are the most affected biome in the world.

Vast Wetland

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.

See Related: Green Revolution Pros and Cons to Know

17. There are also other names for a wetland.

Modern farmer working in a hydroponics greenhouse uses laptop to control various systems in the greenhouse for healthy plant growth. Modern agricultural technology for analyzing plant growth
Wasan / Adobe Stock

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 thanks to linguistics and locals.

See Related: Best Palm Oil Free Soap

18. Wetlands are a rich source of life, even plankton!

A whale swimming in the ocean releases nutrient-rich fecal matter, contributing to the marine ecosystem's vitality and health.

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!

See Related: Important Erosion Pros and Cons You Need to Know

19. There is a worldwide effort to restore international wetlands.

Waterpond in a garden

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, donate to one of the many international wetland conservation/preservation projects. It’s the eco-friendly thing to do!

Related Resources