Wetlands teem with biodiversity, providing homes for many endangered species. In fact, 40% of the world’s biodiversity relies on freshwater wetlands. Yet they only cover around 1% of the planet.
More than 140,000 of known species rely on freshwater ecosystems alone. Yet 13% of freshwater species are threatened with extinction in Great Britain, a symptom of the decline in water quality and loss of habitat across the nation.
Peatlands alone store more carbon in the soil than all tropical rainforests combined. They store almost a third of the world’s total despite only taking up 3 per cent of the world’s surface. Salt marshes and other wetlands are also great carbon sinks.
Waterbirds and waders rely on wetlands as key stop off points for their long migrations. According to the State of Nature report 2018, the creation of new wetland sites is a significant driver of positive change for the UK’s wildlife, providing networks of habitat for migration and breeding.
Our connection with nature is essential for maintaining our wellbeing. Steart Marshes is an innovative new wetland expected to deliver health benefits worth up to £3.5 million in the next 10 years. And wetland plants are used extensively in medicine, with many new ground-breaking new drugs coming from a natural source.
Wetlands can protect us from flooding by storing rainfall like a sponge, and buffering us from the sea. When water levels are low, they slowly release it back to us. In the right environment, wetlands can help bring the air temperature down by up to 10 degrees Celsius.
Civilisations sprang up around wetlands, from the Nile to the Mekong. Now, over 60 million people around the world depend on fishing and aquaculture for their livelihoods. And more than half the world relies on wetland-grown produce such as rice for their staple diet.
Wetlands help to clean our drinking water. They can remove up to 60 per cent of metals in the water, trap and retain up to 90 percent of sediment from runoff and eliminate up to 90 percent of nitrogen.
Wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. Invasive species, pollution, unsustainable development and climate change are all taking their toll with wetlands under more pressure now than ever before.Find out more