Wetlands are difficult to define due to their dynamic nature, but definitions usually include two main characteristics: the presence of water and the ability to support hydrophytic (water-loving) vegetation. Wetlands are unique habitats with many important functions, values, and benefits. Some physical functions include controlling floods by storing run-off water, protecting the land from erosion by absorbing wave energy, and filtering our water by absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorus. Wetlands are also critical nesting and spawning habitat for wildlife including fish, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and mammals.
Regardless of these important ecosystem functions, wetland loss statistics are staggering along the southern Ontario shoreline, with up to 90% of pre-settlement wetlands lost. The remaining wetlands are under threat as well from increased urbanization and development. Preserving our remaining wetlands is essential for wildlife habitat and to ensure proper ecosystem function.
What can you do to help?
In addition to becoming an URBAN volunteer, you can become involved in local government decisions about land use, and write letters to your MP (member of parliament) or MPP (member of provincial parliament) to stress the importance of conserving wetland habitat. If you own land where a wetland is found, consider donating it to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, an organization actively working with the public to preserve natural lands in Canada, and they will work with you to sustainably manage the land.