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Wetlands Portal


A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica, the largest including the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, and the Pantanal in South America. The water found in wetlands can be freshwater, brackish, or saltwater, the main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens; and sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. International conservation efforts are being used in conjunction with the development of rapid assessment tools to inform people about wetland issues.

Constructed wetlands can be used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff and they also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

Selected article

The beach meadows on the island of Endelave (Denmark).
Beach Meadows are coastal meadows influenced by the presence of the nearby sea.

Under this definition, the salinity of the air and wind is usually high and the meadows are often flooded during and after stormy weather, these conditions implies that the flora is dominated by salt-tolerant species. But that alone does not make a meadow. To be categorized as a meadow in the first place, the plantgrowth has to be low in height, and normally this can only be obtained by traffic or grazing the landscape, either artificially or by livestock. Beach meadows are therefore usually thought of as cultural landscapes or biotopes, requiring some degree of intervention and not being able to sustain itself on its own. If left to their own, beach meadows would transform into a socalled transitional meadow and eventually a shrubby or bushy seashore habitat.

As explained, beach meadows are fundamentally an unstable nature type and this condition have an important influence on the flora and fauna found here. Beach meadows are characterized by a number of plants and animals, that could not have thrived, if the habitat was left to a natural development, the grazing (or traffic) hinders bushes, trees and shrubs to get the upper hand and allows low-growth plants to emerge and dominate. This again attracts and supports a special fauna that would change character, if the beach meadow were left to its own, the specific flora and fauna is of course determined by the general climate and geography of the beach meadow.

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