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Why are wetlands so important?

They’re critical for biodiversity, they help prevent natural disasters, they create jobs, they unlock tourism, and they promote wellbeing. But wetlands are in trouble – under constant existential threat from pollution and climate change in general. In fact, over a third of wetlands have disappeared over the last 50 years, with a quarter of what’s left facing the same fate.

Here, we take a snapshot look at what wetlands contribute to the planet, and why they need to form part of our collective thinking as an opportunity rather than an obstacle when creating the spaces and places of the future.

Protecting and enhancing biodiversity

Wetlands are highly biodiverse, with 40% of the world’s plants and animals dependent on them for their survival. Wetlands support a vast array of bird, fish, amphibian, reptile and plant species during key life stages, providing vital roosting, nesting and feeding habitats. They also provide essential ‘stepping stone’ habitats that support the migration of species, including millions of migratory birds.

Promoting wellbeing

Research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) shows that ‘being around wetlands and their wildlife can help us regain a sense of peace and provide us with a place to recuperate and escape life’s daily stresses’.

Cooling our climate

Wetlands can be a great heat regulator. We tend to think of wetlands in a rural setting, but they can also have significant benefits in our cities and towns by countering heat islands.

Wetlands are an important part of the Nature-based Solutions journey that the water industry must meaningfully embrace over the next few years.

Tom Rathmell, Director of Sweco UK & Ireland’s Water team

Offering us jobs

Wetlands provide sustainable, economy-growing livelihoods across fishing, farming and agriculture – as well as creating jobs in the recreation and ecotourism spheres.

Preventing natural disasters, naturally

Flood risk management – they hold back water and slow it down to prevent flood risk downstream, while also protecting against extreme weather events, like tsunamis in coastal areas.

Improving overall water quality

They provide water quality improvement via the most literal of nature-based solutions (gravity means no need for pumps either), hence cutting down on carbon and typical concrete / chemical solutions whilst improving biodiversity.

Going back to water treatment’s roots

Wetlands are a natural solution to a problem that many have been tackled with grey solutions in the past – together, we need to highlight natural solutions like wetlands which are still blocked by obsolete approaches/policy.

Conservation and restoration of wetlands is therefore a vital part of planning and developing places and properties. From a societal perspective we simply need wetlands to survive and thrive, and from a commercial vantage point it can support land value optimisation, elevate green credentials, attract occupancy of all kinds, and increase the chances of long-term investment.

To bring Sweco into your wetlands conversations, contact our experts below.