What is a wetland?

A wetland is land that is covered with water (like the image above). A wetland can also be land that is waterlogged – this means that the soil is saturated or full of water. The water may or may not pool on top of the soil.

Did you know? Not all wetlands are wet all year round. Some wetlands dry out for parts of the year.

There are many words used to describe different types of wetlands. For example: swamp, marsh, fen, billabong, mangrove, floodplain and peatland. Can you think of any other types of wetlands?

Where are wetlands found?

Wetlands are found on all continents except Antarctica. They are found inland. They are also found in coastal areas, where freshwater mixes with seawater.

Here are some examples of wetlands around the world:

South Africa



Costa Rica

Democratic Republic of the Congo

All images: Rhett A. Butler

What kinds of organisms live in a wetland?

Wetlands are home to plants, animals, fungi and algae.

Some plants that live in wetlands are called hydrophytes. Hydrophytes – like the lotus plant – are adapted to living in water. Another famous wetland plant is the carnivorous Venus flytrap.

Wetlands are important homes for many animals. Birds, fish and mollusks live in wetlands. Mammals – like beavers and otters – also live in wetlands.

Why are wetlands wonderful?

Here are some of the reasons why wetlands are important. They:

  1. Store carbon
  2. Clean and filter water
  3. Provide food to many animals, including us
  4. Help protect land from erosion and floods
  5. Make us feel happy

How can we protect and restore our wetlands?

Our wonderful wetlands need help to thrive. Here are a few actions you can take:

  1. Learn more about wetlands. (Check out more resources in the links below.)
  2. Visit wetlands to appreciate their beauty, but tread lightly. Stay on paths and boardwalks where possible. Be mindful not to step on small or delicate plants.
  3. Don’t litter near wetlands.
  4. Garden organically – avoid using pesticides and insecticides in home gardens.
  5. Get involved! Participate in a wetland cleanup. Or help a wetland restoration project in your local area.

Related activity (Grades 3-5)

Wetland activity: imagine life as an animal in the Okavango Delta

Resources for educators and caregivers

February 2 is World Wetlands Day.

Additional resources:

World Wetlands Day website: worldwetlandsday.org


NOAA: What is a wetland?

gov.au: About wetlands

WWF: What is a wetland? And 8 other wetland facts

Mongabay India: Wetlands explainer

*Mongabay Kids is not responsible for content published on external sites