The benefits of wetlands

Wetlands are the sponges of our uplands, the filters in our farmland, and the sinks in our cities. But historically, they've been undervalued. It's our mission to spread the word about the incredible benefits wetlands can bring to all life.

We all need wetlands

From vast salt marsh to tiny ephemeral pools, discover some of the many - and sometimes surprising - ways wetlands are important.

They’re one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats

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.

They’re a lifeline for freshwater species

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.

They can help slow down climate change

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.

They create networks for migrating species

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.

Wetlands are good for our health and wellbeing

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.

They can protect us from extreme weather

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.

They’ve supported human life for millenia

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.

They're essential for clean water

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.

Threats to wetlands

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