Wetland: what is it, characteristics, importance and types of wetlands


Among the natural ecosystems that have great ecological importance and for the maintenance of biodiversity are wetlands. Every year the aim is to make the population aware of the need to be able to conserve these precious natural ecosystems. For this reason, the World Wetlands Day is celebrated every February 2. A wetland It is an ecosystem whose soil appears permanently or periodically flooded with water. This can occur both in freshwater ecosystems and in some areas where there is a certain degree of salinity.

In this article we are going to tell you what a wetland is, what its main characteristics are and how important it is.

What is a wetland

It is a natural ecosystem that houses an ecological balance that consists of a soil as a base that remains periodically or permanently flooded. These ecosystems can occur both in places with fresh water and in places with brackish water. Thanks to these characteristics, the wetland is capable of maintaining a large amount of biodiversity and granting a natural wealth without equal.

The importance of wetlands is highlighted on the world day as it has great importance for our future in sustainable livelihoods. A wetland can be both natural and man-made. Some types of natural wetland can be extended marshes, some swamps and their riparian areas, peatlands, etc. On the other hand, we can see wetlands that are created or modified by the hand of man. Artificially they are able to retain water both temporarily and permanently as long as environmental conditions allow it.

Typically these types of constructed wetlands They are made with the intention of being able to conserve biodiversity that is in danger of extinction. It is also carried out for tourist purposes in order to provide an environmental service and help transmit the values ​​of nature conservation.

Wetland types

Since these wetlands are very rich, it has become an important tool for the conservation of nature. There are different types of wetlands that are classified according to the type of water where they are composed and other characteristics we will have to follow below. The main difference between the types of wetlands is the type of water. We found a freshwater wetland and brackish water wetland. We can also differentiate between natural and artificial wetlands.

Let’s see what the different types of wetlands are:

  • River or riverine wetland: are those wetlands with natural characteristics and freshwater type. They are usually made up of rivers, streams, and waterfalls.
  • Lake wetlands: They are those formed through lakes and some natural lagoons with fresh water.
  • Tropical palustres: are those that include some areas with small springs, oases, floodplains, swamp forests, swamps and swamps both seasonal and permanent. The main characteristic of these types of wetlands is that they all have a natural origin and the water is fresh.
  • Marine wetlands: as its own word indicates, they are natural wetlands but made up of salt water. They are usually found in coastal environments with shallow marine waters such as some rocky beaches, sandy beaches and some areas with gravel.
  • Estuaries: many rivers form estuaries before their final mouths and some wetlands are generated. Their main characteristic is that they are composed of salty water from estuaries and it is of natural origin. Sometimes it is capable of forming saltwater swamps or mangrove areas.
  • Saltwater lake wetlands: It looks a lot like the previous ones, but both the lakes and lagoons are brackish as they are found in coastal areas. They also have a natural origin.
  • Artificial: are those wetlands that are generated from the works of the human being with the aim of storing or controlling a certain volume of water. Here we can see the reservoirs and dams. They may also have the objective of preserving a certain amount or species of protected flora and fauna.

Wetland characteristics

wetland types

wetland types

For an ecosystem to be considered a wetland, it must meet the following characteristics:

  • They are considered transition areas or a progressive change between aquatic and terrestrial systems. That is, they are considered as mixed ecosystems since they keep some characteristics of both one ecosystem and another. We find some parts more focused on the terrestrial ecosystem and others more focused on the marine ecosystem.
  • They are flood zones so they can be temporary or permanent zones. Temporary zones occur in those places with a small depression that floods easily when there is heavy rainfall.
  • The waters of the wetlands They must be stagnant waters, with small currents, fresh or salt water and include small marine areas with a certain depth. Wetlands can have a very low tidal effect. Normally this effect does not exceed 6 meters.
  • The boundary of the wetland will be determined by the type of vegetation that it has in each terrain. The vegetation is hydrophilic, that is, it needs a good predisposition to water. It is also possible to distinguish non-hydrophilic vegetation and that which represents the boundary of the wetland where another ecosystem ends and begins with an exclusively terrestrial environment.
  • Wetlands they are the ideal habitat for a large number of species in which the migratory birds that come from wetlands around the world to feed and rest stand out. We can also find flora and fauna such as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects.

Ecological importance

As we have mentioned before, in humidity it is an ecosystem with great importance for the correct functioning of nature. And it is that they are responsible for being able to host a large amount of biodiversity of birds, fish and other groups of animals. They also develop those species of flora that are dependent on water.

If we add the value within the world of man, wetlands serve to create areas for the food production and require large amounts of water for its cultivation as is the case of rice. Other factors of great importance in the conservation of humidity is the regulation of the hydrological cycle, both surface and aquifers. It also actively participates in the control of erosion and the regulation of the nutrient cycle.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what a wetland is and its importance.

Wetland: what is it, characteristics, importance and types of wetlands

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