1.     Benefits of wetlands and humans:

·         Wetlands produce rice and this source of food is the staple diet of nearly 3 billion people - half the world's population. It is grown in wetlands across Asia and west Africa.

·         We use a wealth of natural products from wetlands, including fish and shellfish, blueberries, cranberries, timber and wild rice.

·         Protecting wetlands can protect our safety and welfare as humans because wetlands safe guard us from storms and they store flood water

·         Some medicines are derived from wetland soils and plants.

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2.     Benefits of wetlands and the environment:

·         Wetland ecosystems are often undervalued and yet they provide a range of products derived from freshwater habitats.

·         These complex habitats act as giant sponges, soaking up rainfall and slowly releasing it over time.

·         Wetlands are like highly efficient sewage treatment works, absorbing chemicals, filtering pollutants and sediments, breaking down suspended solids and neutralising harmful bacteria.

·         Many species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians rely on wetland habitat for breeding, foraging, and cover. The special wetland conditions provide unique habitat for species that cannot survive elsewhere.

3.     Characteristics of wetlands

      The permanence and seasonality of their moisture regime

·         Permanent wetlands are mostly located near open water bodies such as lakes and rivers.

·         Permanent wetlands consisting of papyrus and other sedges, reeds, and floating plants.

·         A significant share of seasonal wetlands is used for crops.

·         The economic and subsistence uses of wetlands vary with land cover and whether they are seasonal or permanent.

4.     Types of wetlands found in SA

·         Coastal wetlands

·         Shallow lakes and ponds

·         Marches and swamps

 

5.     Threats to wetlands

•          Overutilization of wetlands resources

•          Pollution

•          Uncontrolled agriculture

•          Uncontrolled burning

•          Construction of dams, embankments and walls in wetlands

•          Development e.g. building of houses or roads

•          Mining activities e.g. sand and minerals mining

•          Spillage or discharge of chemicals, waste water and raw sewer into the wetland

•          Drainage of water for irrigation purposes

•          Illegal dumping on wetlands

 

6.     How to conserve wetlands

•          Do not dump waste/rubble in wetlands

•          Adopt a wetland stream, maintain and monitor it.

•          Communities and schools must be custodians of wetlands by being vigilant against any element that could threaten their existence

•          Be involved in education, protection and restoration of wetlands

•          Refrain/discourage/speak out against actions harmful to the wetlands

•          As a school adopt a stream and constantly monitor pollution

•          Clean up wetlands near you