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Functions and Values of Wetlands

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.

Key Functions of Wetlands:

  • Water storage: Wetlands function like natural tubs or sponges, storing water and slowly releasing it.
  • Water filtration: After being slowed by a wetland, water moves around plants, allowing the suspended sediment to drop out and settle to the wetland floor.
  • Biological productivity: Wetlands are some of the most biologically productive natural ecosystems in the world, comparable to tropical rain forests and coral reefs in their productivity and the diversity of species they support.