Wetlands are areas where there is land that is often flooded, soaked or covered by water. This land is sometimes called a swamp or a marsh. The soil is usually not dry, but muddy, and many of the plants that grow in wetland areas have adapted to live in very wet soil where the ground isn’t very stable and oxygen levels are often low. Trees like the Bald Cypress and Tupelo Gum both grow a very wide base (the bottom of the tree) that helps to stabilize them in muddy soil. The water in a wetland area usually slow-moving without large waves.
Wetlands have many important functions. They remove excess nutrients from the water and provide habitats for thousands of species of plants and animals. Wetlands are also a valuable barrier against tidal surges (water that is forced on land usually from the sea) and strong winds that may occur during bad weather and hurricanes.
Wetlands are vulnerable to extreme changes. Even plants that have adapted to grow well in area with large amounts of water have a hard time adapting to survive in salt water. As people continue to change coastlines and waterways through city development and construction, we are also affecting the wetlands by removing sources of nutrients, sediment and fresh water, and introducing harmful substances like salt water and pollutants. That is why it is so important for people to know the value of wetlands and consider the effects their actions will have on wetland ecosystems.