In Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, Brickyard Trail At the Sandra Frankel Nature Park, By Debi Bower Date, Photo Credit Unknown
World Wetlands Day was set originally on February 2nd in 1971, by the Convention on Wetlands in Rasmar, Iran, a city on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Subsequently, in August of 2021 the UN General Assembly established a World Wetlands Day, “to raise awareness of the urgency of reversing the accelerating loss of wetlands and to promote their conservation and restoration.”
This year A Frog House is continuing our theme of wetlands (although frogs need land space as well). A Frog House wants to remind our readers that there are many benefits of building, restoring and renovating wetlands, possibly the most ecologically important activity that any of us can undertake.
The following benefits of wetland conservation are excerpted fromThe Department of Environmental Conservation and combined with information from the World Wetlands Day site, edited for clarity and brevity. Please see those pages directly for exact references.
- Water Supply. Wetlands serve as reservoirs for the watershed and naturally filter water, removing pollutants.
- Water Quality. Wetlands intercept runoff from surfaces, removing pollutants through physical, chemical, and biological processes, equivalent to that which could be removed by a $5 million treatment plant.
- Erosion Control. The roots of riparian wetland plants hold soil in place and reduce stream and river current velocity, protecting shorelines and stream banks from erosion.
- Flood and Storm Impact Abatement. Flood damages average up to $8 billion annually. A typical wetland can store 3-acre feet of water, each saving the equivalent of 1 million dollars in destruction, buffering coasts and protecting communities.
- Store Carbon. Peatlands, mangroves, intertidal marshes and seagrass beds are efficient carbon sinks.
- Habitat and Biodiversity Enhancement. Forty percent of the world’s species live or breed in wetlands. Thirty percent of threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands, and an additional 20% of these use or inhabit wetlands at some time. Wetlands represent only 5% of the acreage of the lower 48 states.
- Recreation and Livelihoods. More than 82 million Americans (in 2001 figure) took part in hiking, fishing, bird watching, photography, and hunting in and around wetland destinations. People sustain themselves on fishing and aquaculture, of particular benefit to indigenous populations, reeds and grasses.
- Mental and Physical Health. Wetlands protection allows communities, individuals, businesses, organizations, and others to build partnerships through protection activities and provide access to data and resources that otherwise would not be available.
- Education. Wetlands protection activities provide meaningful opportunities to educate the public regarding wetlands science, wetlands protection, and the value of water resources.
- Aesthetic Appeal. Wetlands provide visual value and are often incorporated as features within landscape design.
What’s Being Done Locally
As major wetland alteration and restoration requires a permit, fortunately the Town of Pittsford has taken this project on for the Erie Canal Nature Preserve. Jess Neal has been given authority to move ahead with plans to remove invasive plants and put in some natives with their own budget in the spring.
Interestingly, the restoration of wetlands can occur more simply, inexpensively and naturally in appropriate areas by the reintroduction of beavers, so shamelessly exploited and nearly decimated by early pioneers and traders.
“Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”―including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens―recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. [Beavers build wetlands all on their own, helping us to] fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change.”
—Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
However we name that force and energy that is greater than us, it really is greater than what we do. We really might do better than mindlessly, selfishly, and destructively take advantage of our rich resources for our own benefits, but live with gratitude for and in harmony with the rest of life. It really is better for our mental and physical health.