The Value of Our Urban Wetlands

What is a wetland? What do they do for us? Are wetlands really the icky home of the monsters you see in movies, or are they valuable, delicate, place necessary to many plants, animals, and even people? There are many values to having wetlands, but people do not always see those values before they fill them in to build a new shopping center or parking lot.


There are three key elements that make a wetland a wetland: Water, wetland soils, and wetland plants. Water must be present near the surface for at least part of the year. Some wetlands, like vernal ponds or seasonal pools, only have water part of the year and are dry most of the time. Other types of wetlands, like freshwater marshes, are covered with water all year long. To be considered a wetland, the soil must be waterlogged and oxygen-starved. Wetland plants have special structures that help them adapt to living in waterlogged soils or shallow water. Trees like cypresses and flowers like water lilies are some of the plants you might find in the wetlands. If a piece of land meets these three key criteria, then it is considered a wetland.

Urban wetlands are a lot like things you can probably find in your house, something you might use every day.Stream A sponge, usually used to soak up spilled water, serves a similar function in a wetland. Wetlands help soak up excess rain water to help prevent flooding. Wetlands are also like beds. Usually people use beds for a comfortable place to sleep, but migratory birds use wetlands for a place to stop and rest on long flights. Soap is used by people to clean and wetlands are used by the environment to clean polluted water before it enters rivers, streams, or creeks. Most people enjoy flowers in the center of a table for beauty; an urban wetland can serve a similar purpose in a big city.

Just because wetlands are muddy does not mean they are useless to people. They help our neighborhoods and cities in many ways. Wetlands help prevent flooding and help clean polluted water before it goes into the rivers and the ground water we drink from. Wetlands also provide important habitat for animals. Wetlands provide animals with shelter, food, and other basic needs. Wetland animals were on this land long before humans were. Is it really right for humans to dig up their homes, just so we can have one more movie theater?