If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to life on Earth.
Wetlands are found across the world, ranging from giant deltas and mighty estuaries and mudflats, to floodplains and peat bogs. Humans and wildlife have relied on them for thousands of years.
Some are famous, like the Okavango delta, Arctic tundra and the Pantanal in South America. Others are as humble as the marshy bog, or the pond at the end of your garden and can be easily overlooked. But all play a crucial role in protecting our health and the health of our planet.
Wetlands teem with biodiversity. They’re part of our natural infrastructure, providing essential protection against climate change, floods, droughts and pollution. They’re also vital for our health and wellbeing.
Wetlands are one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats. They provide homes for many endangered species, offer a lifeline for freshwater species and act as vital ‘service stations’ for millions of migratory birds to rest and refuel. Many endemic species are found only in specific wetland areas.
Wetlands can help us slow down climate change by naturally absorbing and storing vast amounts of carbon. They can also help us prepare for, cope with and bounce back from the impacts of climate change.
Wetlands protect us from extreme weather events and help us recover better from disasters. By storing rain like a sponge, and by buffering us from the sea they can protect us from floods, tsunamis and cyclones. Wetlands can also protect us from droughts and reduce air temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius.
Wetlands have supported human life for millenia and are essential for human health and prosperity. From the Nile to the Mekong, civilisations sprang up around wetlands, and all around the world they continue to provide us with food, water, supplies, transport and leisure.
Wetlands not only hold most of our available fresh water, they also improve its quality by naturally filtering pollutants.
Our connection with nature and particularly wetlands is essential for maintaining our health and wellbeing. Research by WWT is showing that being around wetlands and their wildlife can help us regain a sense of peace and provide us with a place to recuperate and escape life’s daily stresses.
Wetlands have been taken for granted and undervalued for centuries.
Invasive species, pollution, unsustainable development and climate change are all taking their toll with wetlands under more pressure than ever before. Now the frightening consequences are starting to catch up with us and the planet’s wildlife.
But there’s hope.
Unlike ancient woodland and rainforest that take centuries to regenerate, new technology means WWT can create new wetlands in a matter of months and years. It’s an area where your support can make a real impact.