Wetlands - volunteer for wetlands & help preserve the habitat for wetland animals

Wetlands.   Not much is known about them and many people tend to think that wetlands are wasted ground, which could be made into something more useful.  But they are home to many animal species & plants - and wetlands are important to people - and there is plenty each of us can do to help keep them well, healthy and to help them thrive.

World Wetlands Day on 2nd February aims to raise public awareness of wetland values & benefits, and of the Ramsar Convention, which was set up in 1971 to provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
What are wetlands?

Wetlands include rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, peatlands, support bogs, fens, swamps, reedbeds, marshes, floodplain meadows, wet woodland, estuaries, wet grasslands, oases, deltas, coastal waters, tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs.

They also include man-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies & reservoirs.  Wetlands may be still bodies of water or flowing

Rivers and streams provide wildlife with ‘corridors’ which they can use to move between fragmented habitats.  As these dry up or are drained, wildlife hit problems - they can't move between these habitats.
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Why do wetlands matter? 

Wetlands provide a clean source & supply of water for people & animals but this water needs careful managing & monitoring to ensure there is always plenty of it when and where it is needed. 

People can benefit from wetlands by having food, fresh water & building supplies, plus wetlands help with water purification, and act as flood defences & they also help control erosion.

Where are wetlands?

There are 197,349,782 designated hectares of wetlands around the world, and 2,066 sites designated for the list of wetlands of importance.  This PDF lists where wetlands are and Wetlands International has a world map showing where wetlands are globally
Which species live in wetlands?

UK wetlands and waterways are home to many different species such as fish e.g. brown trout, eel, stickleback, pike, grayling, roach, perch, salmon. You'll find otters (at night), water voles, wetland birds, and amphibians. 

Common reed provide vital habitats to species such as the bearded tit, marsh harrier & bittern. Swans, ducks, cranes, swallows, reed warblers, moorhens, and the white damselfly all need wetlands. 

The more wetlands we have in towns & cities, the easier it will be for wildlife to move bewteen them. 

Corridors such as these are vital for species to adapt to changing climates

We all need to look at what we can do to ensure that wetland ecosystems and their water are well managed for the benefit of people and wildlife. 

How about giving a wildlife lover
a Gift membership to
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust?

or visit the centre nearest you

Brazil tailor made holidays, Wetlands & Waterfalls
Wildlife holidays from 
Responsible Travel

Why do species living in wetlands need help?

  • People don't know or understand why wetlands are important - they see them as wasteland to be exploited for human need & gain, or they think nature is an irrelevant
  • People have drained wetlands for agricultural needs
  • We've allowed pollutants to enter the water system - and then had to treat them
  • Drought conditions have meant that fish, wetlands birds and widllife have struggled to survive as waterways have dried up or run very low.  Food & places to breed have been lost
  • Dykes and damns separate land and water and stop the movement & flow of water
  • In some areas where there have been huge population increases, wetlands have been drained for human need for water. Many people waste water

Key things you can do:

  • Learn about wetlands and their importance to people and wildlife

  • Tell people about them, spread the word of how they matter to people and wildlife.  Most people think wetlands are just wasteland, empty land which can be better used for human need & greed

  • Visit the organisations which care for wetlands & find out how to help e.g. join their Facebook page & Twitter accounts, volunteer in your area, treat a loved one to a gift from their online shops, become a member, ask for a birthday/Christmas present for yourself from their shop

  • See what you can do to create wetland in your garden at home

  • Get involved in World Wetlands Day, held on 2nd February every year.  This year's theme is Wetlands and Water Management, the slogan being Wetlands take care of water. (It's also the UN's International Year of Water Co-operation, looking at the water challenges facing the world and possible solutions.)  Why not use the day to decide on one action to take to make a difference to wetlands & the wildlife living there?

Which organisations are involved in conservation in wetland areas?

Wildfowl & Wildlife Trusts have 9 centres to visit in the UK.  You can also adopt an animal such as a mallard, a Bewick's swan or an otter & you can become a member. They also have info on conservation & resources for teachers. There's also a how to help section showing you how you can make a difference from home

The Wildlife Trusts have info on wetlands and you can find your local Wildlife Trust here to volunteer (there are 47, including the Isle of Man & Alderney)

The National Trust looks aver 40 peatlands Sites of Special interest, raised bogs, fens, valley mires, and huge tracts of blanket bogs.  Many scarce species inhabit peatlands. Peat holes up to 20 times its own weight in water;  it must be wet, but it is drying out after centuries of mis-use and the National Trust is working to reverse this decline

The RSPB cares for nature reserves across a range of habitat, including rivers, estuaries, lakes and reedbeds.  They help many wildlife in the UK and further afield and there's a terrifc bird identifier on their website to help you identify not just wetland birds but those on the coast, in the countryside, in woodland, in urban areas, on grassland etc

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation manages 80 reserves in the UK.  Click here to find your nearest one

The Freshwater Habitats Trust plays a lead role in pond conservation.  
It has lots of advice on creating ponds to help wildlife

Wetlands International 

The World Land Trust is involved in a number of projects around the world to preserve wildlife habitat.  Find out more here