Wetlands are areas where land and water come together to create diverse and and dynamic ecosystem. Wetlands play a significant role in the natural cycles of water and in perpetuating wildlife habitat. They help mitigate flooding and absorb pollutants that could otherwise become a threat to water supplies. They also have recreational and educational value for the communities in which they are located. Finally, wetlands can be found in the natural environment or constructed and planted for a specific purpose.
An inventory of wetland areas will help identify areas unsuitable for development, and their preservation can be tied to the important recreational, educational and environmental benefits of a community’s green infrastructure network.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the lead on mapping wetlands and has developed an interactive tool on its website to identify wetlands in communities across the country. Linking wetlands areas within a larger green infrastructure network can be accomplished by implementing a Greenprint plan. Local governments should also implement regulations to preserve and protect wetlands from negative effects of development.
Wetlands contribute to the health and environmental quality of a community in numerous ways:
- Protection of water quality
- Flood mitigation
- Natural disaster protection
- Wildlife habitat support
- Support of ecosystems that provide food
Mapping and protecting these areas will ensure that they continue to provide environmental, recreational and educational benefits to the communities they are located in.
Limiting development of wetlands can raise the ire of individuals or groups that advocate for property rights. Because some wetlands are not always wet, it can be difficult to show that a property is environmentally sensitive and should be protected.
Local, state and federal government officials; citizens; local advocates.
The costs of preserving wetland areas from development can vary according to whether land is acquired through fee simple purchase, condemnation or donation by the landowner. Most wetland protection regulations can be administered through established government agencies that manage and regulate permitting and development activities.
A basic unit of nature that includes a community of biological organisms and their nonliving environment linked by biological, chemical, and physical processes.The system of land, natural resources, and natural habitats that collectively comprise a community's underlying ecosystem. Green Infrastructure is present in every city, although its size, diversity, and strength vary greatly. Importantly, green infrastructure can be used to help offset negative environmental impacts, for example stormwater runoff and urban heat island effect.