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Wetlands and Climate Change

Last week we talked about the importance of wetlands and listed 5-10 benefits of protecting and restoring our wetlands. Just to recap, Wetlands help with flood control, soil erosion, water filtration and provide a habitat for native plants and wildlife. Wetlands are one of the richest and biologically most productive ecosystems in the natural world and are instrumental in maintaining a healthy environment.

Our lack of understanding these significant facts is a major threat to the continuance of these ecosystems. Citizens, politicians, students, children - everyone needs to have a better understanding of Wetlands, their role and importance and how the impact of the loss of Wetlands contributes to our current climate change crisis.

We are responsible for climate change and have contributed mainly from Greenhouse emissions by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas for the vehicles we drive, heating our homes and commercial and industrial activities. Fertilizer use, livestock production and road building generate air and water pollution. Deforestation like logging, clearing, filling in Wetlands and wildfires contribute as well by releasing stored carbon into the air. Since this blog is focused on Wetlands let's talk about exactly what happens when a decision is made to fill in a wetland.

But first, our climate change crisis has resulted in an increase of flooding around the world, drought in other areas, an increase in frequency of severe storms and a higher number of days with elevated temperatures.

As temperatures rise Wetlands become vulnerable to drying and shrinking. This is exacerbated by a decrease in precipitation, resulting in changes in groundwater conditions and levels like water quality, quantity and flow rates. As the availability of suitable Wetland becomes degraded, wetland and aquatic species and native plants are adversely affected.

Provincial Significant Wetlands at entrance to the Nature Centre

Reports indicate that up to 80% of wetlands in Southern Ontario have been lost to filling, draining and degradation. The destruction of Wetlands increases flood and drought damage, along with increasing water pollution and precipitating the decline of native species and wildlife populations. Drained Wetlands emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and continue for quite some time until new vegetation is established. This emission of carbon dioxide contributes to our current climate change problem.

Wetlands store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere along with some fossil fuel emissions through photosynthesis . Wetlands slow the rate of climate change by sequestering the carbon. Their unique function plays a significant role in reversing the negative impacts of climate change.

Wildlife in Provincially Significant Wetlands at the Nature Centre

Some Wetland Specialists call our Wetlands the "kidneys of the landscape". Let's leave the "kidneys of our landscape" alone to do the job Mother Nature intended - ultimately keeping us and the environment in balance and healthy.

We too can stop Global Warming by supporting certified renewable energy options, making our homes more energy-efficient, buying energy-efficient appliances and products, buying and retro-fitting water-efficient fixtures, buying fuel-efficient vehicles and maintaining proper tire pressure, tuneups and changing air filters regularly. Most of us have replaced our light bulbs with LED bulbs. And finally ensure our elected politicians are making good decisions when it comes to progress and urban development. Ensure analysis and environmental studies and assessments on the impact of land use are completed so that our Wetlands remain intact and protected.

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