The Importance of Wetlands

Here at GreenVest we understand the importance of wetlands, and it’s why we work to protect and restore them every day. What is it that wetlands do? Wetlands are essential to our environment, but also provide recreational and educational opportunities to people of all ages.  

The EPA has amazing comprehensive resources and guides about all of the benefits of wetlands, but we wanted to pull out the key information here to give you a better understanding of just how important wetlands are to our environment. These are just some of the countless ways wetlands are vital to our local environment here in the Mid-Atlantic, and how they benefit our local communities.

Environmental Importance

Erosion Control. Wetland vegetation grows deep into the soil on streambank wetlands, preventing excessive erosion and reducing the amount of sedimentation downstream. This is essential to keeping coastal homes and infrastructure located along wetlands safe and secure.

When we worked on the Avalon Salt Marsh in Cape May County, New Jersey, our goal was to restore and enhance the salt marshes to promote long term resiliency in the face of sea level rise and stabilization the shoreline. This restoration project aimed to arrest the subsidence-based marsh loss at the project site by filling interior areas of open water and increasing marsh platform elevation by placing dredged material pulled from the NJ Intracoastal Waterway.  We were able to complete the projects  with great results for controlling interior erosion and subsidence based marsh loss in the area.

Habitat Development. Did you know that wetlands are home to over 7,000 unique plant species, and provide habitat for dozens of species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals across the United States? Wetlands are vital to many migratory species, but also provide food and shelter to other types of animals as well.

GreenVest worked on the Deep Run Preserve Wetland Enhancement in Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey to develop high-functioning wetlands that now provide a quality habitat for common wildlife and endangered species, including Bald Eagles, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Yellow-crowned Night-herons. The restored headwater site is providing invaluable ecological services within this urbanized watershed.

Reduce Coastal Storm Damage. When located along coastal waters, wetlands help to prevent or reduce flooding, erosion, and property damage during major storms like hurricanes.

Streamflow Maintenance & Flooding Control. Wetlands naturally store water, and the slow release of this water over time helps to keep streams and local reservoirs full during times of drought. Equally important, during major storms wetlands help to absorb water to prevent catastrophic flooding.

Streamflow maintenance, like what GreenVest completed at the USDA B.A.R.C. Facility in Beltsville, Prince George’s County, Maryland, results in measurable water quality and habitat improvements. In this case, it was 25 acres of stream and wetland restoration work within the Anacostia Watershed.

Water Quality. Did you know that wetlands act as a natural water purification system for the areas they are near? Not only do they filter sediment and absorb pollutants in the water, in some instances they can even enhance the quality of abutting groundwater.

Other Impacts

Recreational Areas. Many of the local parks and recreation areas you enjoy getting time in the great outdoors are part of wetland systems. The diversity of plants, animals, rivers, and streams make wetlands the ideal place for hiking, boating, bird watching, sightseeing, and more.

Education Opportunities. Wetlands across the United States provide ecological, cultural, and historic resources, providing numerous opportunities for environmental education and public awareness programs.

At this time of incredible focus on our health and well being throughout the country and the world doing everything we can to assure our environment is restored and preserved is both a challenge and an accomplishment we take seriously at GreenVest.