What is a wetland?

A wetland is an area of land that is covered with water. A wetland can also be a place where the soil is waterlogged (full of water).

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

Australia

Bolivia

Costa Rica

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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 make their homes in wetlands. Some mammals – like beavers and otters – also live in wetlands.

Why are wetlands wonderful?

Wetlands are important for many reasons – 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

How can we protect and restore our wetlands?

Our wetlands need our help. Here are a few actions you can take:

  1. Learn more about wetlands. (Check out some 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:

https://www.worldwetlandsday.org/

https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/what-wetland

https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-education-students-and-teachers

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/wetland.html

https://www.awe.gov.au/water/wetlands/about

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-is-a-wetland-and-8-other-wetland-facts

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