Conservation Corner

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County

Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on February 2nd to raise awareness about wetlands.  Why do we have a World Wetlands Day?  We do to establish awareness that nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we’re losing wetlands three times faster than forests.

Freshwater is rare. Wetlands provide most of it.

Only 2.5% of water on earth is freshwater, mostly stored in glaciers and aquifers.

  • Less than 1% is usable, 0.3% is found in wetlands such as rivers and lakes.

Wetlands store more carbon than forests.

  • Peatlands cover 3% of our planet yet store around 30% of all land-based carbon.
  • Coastal wetlands like mangroves sequester and store carbon up to 55 times faster than   tropical rain forests.

Wetlands help us cope with storms and ­ flooding.

  • 60% of humanity lives and works in coastal areas.
  • Saltmarshes, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs shield coastal communities in  extreme weather.
  • Inland, a single acre of wetland can absorb up to 1.5 million gallons of ­floodwater.

Wetlands are a source of livelihoods and food.

  • More than a billion people live from fishing, aquaculture and tourism
  • Wetland paddies provide rice for 3.5 billion people.

Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests.

  • They’re the Earth’s most threatened ecosystem.
  • More than 80% of all wetlands have disappeared since the 1700s.
  • The trend is accelerating. Since 1970, at least 35% of the world’s wetlands have been   lost.

Human activities are driving wetland degradation.

  • Wetlands are being drained and filled in for agriculture and urban construction.
  • Water pollution and over‑ shing are harming wetland ecosystems, along with invasive species.

Wetland species are facing extinction.

  • One in three freshwater species and 25% of all wetland species face actual extinction  from wetland decline.
  • 81% of inland wetland species and 36% of coastal and marine species have declined in the last 50 years.

A well restored wetland can provide many of the services performed by the original natural wetland. Here are seven ways restored wetlands can bene­ t us directly:

  1. Improve livelihoods

Wetlands create livelihoods in fishing and aquaculture, and also provide goods like reeds and grasses. These opportunities often benefit indigenous populations.

  1. Revive biodiversity

40% of the world’s species live or breed in wetlands.  Restoring wetlands powers the local food chain and attracts wildlife.

  1. Blunt the impact of ­ floods and storms

Restored wetlands can act as sponges against excess rainfall and ­flooding, buffer coastal storm surges, and can shield communities in extreme weather.

  1. Store carbon

Specific types of wetlands, especially peatlands, mangroves, intertidal marshes and seagrass beds are exceptionally efficient carbon sinks.

  1. Replenish and filter water supply

Wetlands naturally filter water, remove pollutants and boost the local water supply.

  1. Boost eco-tourism

A restored wetland can be a sustainable magnet for visitors; a natural attraction that draws tourists along with opportunities to serve them.

  1. Enhance well-being

Revitalized wetlands provide a place to relax, experience nature – and enjoy sense of satisfaction at their resurgence.