Types of Wetland Ecosystem and Benefits

Types of wetland ecosystem and benefits post briefly explains about wetland ecosystem, what are the different types of wetlands?, what are the benefits of wetlands?

Types of wetland ecosystem and benefits

Wetland ecosystems are the world’s most important environmental assets and part of our natural wealth. They are not only home to a large number of species but also provide a wide array of ecosystem services worth trillions of dollars every year entirely free of charge, to the mankind.

Wetland Ecosystem

Characteristics of wetlands, wetland ecosystem is defined as the transitional land between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem, where the land surface is saturated or covered with standing water for at least a part of the year.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands define wetlands as: “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”.

The Convention uses a very broad definition of wetlands. It includes among others all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, wet grasslands, estuaries, deltas, mangroves coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans. Sometimes to distinguish wetland ecosystem from other ecosystems, the amount of aquatic vegetation (macrophytes) in the wetland ecology is considered.

Types of Wetlands

Ramsar convention divides wetlands into three main categories

1. Marine & Coastal: For example, permanent shallow marine waters, coral reefs, estuarine waters, marshes, mangroves, freshwater or saline lagoons etc.

2. Inland Wetlands: For example, inland deltas, rivers, creeks, permanent or seasonal lakes, Tundra wetland, Alpine wetland, peatland, geothermal wetlands etc.

3. Man-made Wetlands: For example, aquaculture, ponds, irrigation channels, flooded rice fields, salt pans, reservoirs etc.

Benefits of Wetlands

Flood control:  They increase downward percolation of water, reducing runoff. The Chennai Floods of 2015 were worsened by damage to wetland ecosystem in the region due to illegal human development activities.

Water replenishment: This also helps in recharging aquifers and increasing water table. In Alwar district of Rajasthan, the revival of Arwari river and traditional water storage structures have improved water table significantly.

Storm protection: They protect coastal erosion due to wave action. Also, the trees and vegetation of coastal wetlands like mangroves act as a barrier to the storms, providing protection to inland regions.

Nutrient retention: Sediments from water runoff are dumped into wetlands near the river mouth due to reduced flow. Wetland vegetation recycles the nutrients from land and water by up taking and storing them.

Water purification: Wetlands act as natural filters, purifying water from toxic substances that have come from pesticides, industrial discharges, and mining activities.

Reservoirs biodiversity: Most wetlands are transitory between territorial and aquatic ecosystem known as Ecotones. This creates an edge effect leading to high species diversity and density as compared to any of the neighboring biomes.

Wetland products: They provide important raw material for industries. For example, fish and other marine life forms, salt production, medicinal plants like mangrove bark, fibre for textile, dyes and tannins, Timber wood etc.

Cultural values: Many wetlands are important to aboriginal people. There are sacred groves with high cultural and religious values.

Recreation & tourism: Examples of wetlands are areas of great natural beauty like coral reefs, important sites for bird-watchers like Chilika lake (Odisha), Keoladeo bird sanctuary (Rajasthan), and huge biodiversity hotspots. They attract millions of tourists and boost the local economy.

Climate mitigation: They are one of the major carbon sinks of the world, helping in mitigating climate change. They are part of the Blue Carbon initiative, which is carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystem and stored in the form of biomass and sediments. Wetlands are also a significant source of methane and nitrous oxide emission.

The answer to the question of types of wetland ecosystem and benefits has been found. You can learn more about ecosystem and functions at NotesHippo.com

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