The protection of rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and adjacent lands can create jobs, protect fisheries relied upon by the fishing industry, protect food and drinking water sources, protect and create tourism opportunities, enhance property values, decrease local government expenditures and provide recreational opportunities, including those associated with the multi-billion dollar fishing industry. Because so many rely on the services provided by waterways, when they are not protected, governments have to undertake costly projects to restore them or to replace the services they provide.
Long regarded as wastelands, wetlands are now recognized as important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These beneficial services, considered valuable to societies worldwide, are the result of the inherent and unique natural characteristics of wetlands.