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Wetlands: Their Role in Keeping Us and the Environment Healthy

We have all heard of wetlands but do we really know their significance and importance to the health of our environment. Let's start with the definition of wetland and the types in Ontario. A quote from the Province of Ontario's website:

Wetlands are areas that have been soaked with water long enough for the soil to become waterlogged. This allows water-loving or water-tolerant plants like black ash, tamarack, and bog cranberry to grow.
Wetlands are found where the water table is close to, or at the surface. They are usually in low-lying areas or along the edges of lakes and rivers.

There are 4 different types of wetlands; swamps, marshes, bogs and fens. Wetlands are also evaluated to determine if they should receive special protection as "Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs)". The Ontario Wetland Evaluation System is in place to determine if wetlands are significant. Here at the nature centre we have approximately 55 acres of "Provincially Significant Wetlands" (PSWs)". More about PSWs in a future blog.

One of many entrances to Provincial Significant Wetlands (PSWs) at the Nature Centre

There are numerous benefits to protect and restore our wetlands. Here are just a few:

  • Water filtration: remove pollutants from runoff before reaching our lakes, rivers and streams

  • Habitat: provide habitat for native plants and wildlife including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates

  • Flood Control: wetlands soak up and store flood water

  • Erosion control: wetlands protect shorelines from erosion

  • Water supply: act as reservoirs for the watershed

  • Education: are exceptional study areas for different species of wildlife - opportunities are created through learning about wetland protection and about the value of our water resources

  • Nature appreciation: bird watching, photography, exploration

Provincially Significant Wetland (PSWs) area at the Nature Centre

Wetlands play an important role in protecting biodiversity. Southern Ontario has lost most of its wetlands and there are many under threat from development and new government proposals making it easier to destroy wetlands. Not only are our wetlands under serious threat from development but as climate change accelerates our wetlands will be impacted negatively affecting our health and properties.

There are ways we can stop the loss of biodiversity. Reducing the size of our ecological footprint is a start. Conserve energy, shut the lights off, don't forget to reduce, reuse and recycle, drive less, walk more when you can and get involved in biodiversity conservation, plant native plants, stop using pesticides, volunteer with conservation in your community and province, reach out to Members of Parliament to protest if there is a proposal to fill in wetlands for future development.

Our individual actions will contribute to the protection and restoration of our ecosystems including our much needed wetlands.

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