Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wetlands: Good for the Planet and Your Health

Honoring World Wetlands Day (which was on Tuesday), here's some info on why we care -- from Planet Green:

Wetlands are the "kidneys" of the landscape. They have the ability to remove excess nutrients, toxic substances, and sediment from water that flows through them, helping to maintain and improve downstream water quality. Studies show that pollutant removal rates for natural and restored wetlands indicate that, wetlands can retain significant percentages of nitrates, ammonium, phosphorus, and sediment loads. Natural wetlands have also been effective in removing contaminants such as pesticides, landfill, dissolved chlorinated compounds, metals, and stormwater runoff. explains why we need to be concerned about wetlands:
"There is a connection between a healthy wetland eco-system and human health. In the developing world, 1 in 5 people do not have access to clean drinking water. Poor management strategies that support the health of wetland eco-systems can affect the health of humans, with wetland-related diseases claiming the lives of 3 million people each year and bring suffering to many more. It is estimated that 1.4 billion people live in water basins where water uses exceed sustainable levels."

Of course, they're also some of the most species-rich systems on the planet, and some of my favorite places to birdwatch.   I remember back in my undergraduate days at Cornell, we'd head up to Montezuma National Wildlife refuge and check out birds from bald eagles to herons.

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