Yesterday we went on a field trip in my science class. All week we've been talking about 'wetlands' and what kinds of ecosystems services they provide. As well as looking at a case involving a development company and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company wanted to build on a parcel of land that included a wetland in a small town in the state of Massachussets (New England) in 1984. This would have brought economic development to the town so they really encouraged the development. It would however compromise the wetland, this caused a lot of controversy as some were pro-development while environmental groups were of course up-in-arms.
To understand the concept of wetlands better, below is a general definition of what they are;
''Wetlands are complex ecosystems that, depending on their type and on circumstances within the watershed, can improve water quality, provide natural flood control, diminish droughts, recharge groundwater aquifers, and stabilize shorelines. They often support a wide variety of plants and animals, including rare and endangered species, migratory birds, and young of commercially valuable fishes. Their beauty and diversity contribute recreational value'' (National Academy of Science, online source http://www.nap.edu, accessed 19/10/07).
Some examples of wetlands are swamps, certain types of forests, rice paddies and marsh. Each continent has its own specific variation of wetlands but they all have the same properties. In the US rigourous effort was made to restore wetlands (in the 80s and 90s) that were lost over the years through deforestation and landfill for construction. As a consequence there are very strict laws protecting wetlands.
It has been a very interesting week. I will post pictures of our canoe trip over this weekend.