Wetlands are a vital part of the natural environment, providing essential habitats for many species of wildlife and helping to filter pollutants out of water. But what happens when wetlands aren’t given the protection they need? Unfortunately, it’s all too common for municipal boards and government agencies to fail to enforce wetland setback requirements, leading to wetland degradation and destruction. This is why it’s important to remember that the most important part of a wetland is a healthy adjacent upland habitat.
What is the Difference Between Puddles and Wetlands?
Wetlands are not just any body of standing water; certain characteristics set them apart from puddles or ponds. To be considered a wetland, an area must have certain traits, including saturated soils, hydric vegetation (plants adapted to living in waterlogged soil), and evidence of flooding or ponding. Understanding the difference between wetlands and other bodies of standing water is key to understanding why intact upland habitats are important for protecting wetland health and sustainability.
Why Uplands Are Critical For Wetlands – Wildlife Considerations
Intact upland habitats not only protect wetland water quality but provide critical habitat for wildlife as well. Species like salamanders in the genus Ambystoma (tiger salamanders included) rely on both wetlands and uplands for various parts of their lifecycles; without intact uplands surrounding wetlands, these species have nowhere else to turn when they need shelter or refuge from predators. It’s clear that any effort to protect wetlands without explicit consideration of surrounding uplands is doomed to fail.
It’s easy to forget about the importance of healthy upland habitats when considering how best to protect our precious wetlands – but next time you’re contemplating how best to do this, be sure to remember that intact upland habitats are essential for keeping our wetlands safe from degradation and destruction. By enforcing proper wetland setback requirements, we can ensure that our wetlands remain healthy havens for wildlife. Together we can make sure our precious wetlands remain around for generations to come!