What is a Wetland?

Where water collects in the landscape, natural wetlands form with breathtaking results. Wetlands support a huge wealth of wildlife and species from dazzling dragonflies to wheeling flocks of lapwings.

The international convention on wetlands (RAMSAR 1971) defines wetlands as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, which are natural or artificial, permanent or temporary. They can have water which is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water up to 6 metres deep at low tide. A wetland is therefore almost any part of the landscape which is influenced by water, from a puddle to an ocean!

Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are some of the most naturally fertile habitats in the world (Scialabba, 1999), and most of the worlds’ population lives in and around wetlands or former wetlands. A huge number and range of wildlife species are supported by these abundant habitats.

Wetlands provide humans and wildlife with essential environmental services such as fuel, clean water, medicines and energy ... as well as beautiful landscapes in which to live. Wetlands help to stabilise our climate (Crooks et al, 2005), as well as supporting human activities such as the fishing industry which is valued at billions of pounds a year.