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What are wetlands?

Wetlands are places that are saturated with water, either salt or fresh. Wetlands include areas on the edges of larger water bodies including lakes, oceans, bayous, rivers and deltas. There are also wetlands that are independent from bodies of water, but remain saturated seasonally or year around. You can read more about wetland types from NOAA here and from the EPA here.

Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands are beneficial for wildlife and human health for many reasons. They provide natural water filtration, storm protection, and flood control. They also support the breeding grounds for most aquatic life, and many bird species.

The Destruction of Wetlands

Wetlands are often destroyed in land development projects, harmed by pollution events from industry and susceptible to being destroyed with land subsidence and sea level rise. When wetlands are destroyed, the land is less able to absorb water. This causes communities to become more susceptible to flooding and storm surges. "Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water for their citizens, floods are more devastating to nearby communities, storm surges from hurricanes can penetrate farther inland, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted, along with livelihoods." Read more about the destruction of wetlands from World Wildlife Fund here.

How are wetlands protected?

In the US, many states have regulations that help to protect wetlands. The Clean Water Act is the primary federal protection legislation, through it five federal agencies are charged with protecting various aspects of the wetland health, "The [Army] Corps' duties are related to navigation and water supply. The EPA's authorities are related to protecting wetlands primarily for their contributions to the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. The [Fish and Wildlife Services'] authorities are related to managing fish and wildlife-game species and threatened and endangered species. Wetland authority of NOAA lies in its charge to manage the Nation's coastal resources. The NRCS focuses on wetlands affected by agricultural activities." Read more on USGS's page on legislation here.

Federally and regionally there are many groups who work on wetland protections. You can read about how groups like Healthy Gulf work to protect wetlands in places they are threatened such as Louisiana.

Wetlands Monitoring Activities

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Balloon map of south Bonfouca cel USFWS planting with PIES and TOES @eustatic 10 months ago 197
Landfill mapping with Oakville Community Action Group @a1ahna over 1 year ago 2
Sustain the Nine: Resilience in the Lower Ninth Ward @joyofsoy over 1 year ago 1
Cheap multispectral camera @maykef over 1 year ago 21
Check up on Bayou Bienvenue 22 August 2018 @eustatic over 1 year ago 7
Event: Mapping wetlands and algae blooms @stevie almost 2 years ago 1
Request for kite/balloon mapping help at Tidmarsh Farms wetlands restoration in Plymouth MA @warren over 2 years ago 0
Video: The Meadowlands With Hackensack Riverkeeper @zengirl2 almost 3 years ago 0
How to visually document a site @stevie about 3 years ago 1
MapKnitter map of Bayou Uhlan PPigeon 12 jan 2017 @eustatic about 3 years ago 0
Mapping Rural Alberta's Wetlands @Rural about 4 years ago 14
Wetland Watchers July 2015 @eustatic over 4 years ago 5
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School @Travis almost 5 years ago 1
Wetland Watchers map note, 12 dec 2014 @eustatic over 5 years ago 2
Having Fun while Exploring a Sinking World @eymund over 5 years ago 3
next attempts at dye tracing @liz over 5 years ago 5
[Reference] Bay Denesse and Plaquemines Bayou aerial photo history 2 @eustatic over 5 years ago 5
[Reference] west bay USGS aerial photography for land change analysis @eustatic over 5 years ago 4
Reference graphic, Barataria work @eustatic over 5 years ago 0
2011 Barataria Bay mapping fieldnotes, maps, mapping tracks, images @Shannon over 5 years ago 0
Preliminary Stitch of Dredge Island Planting Day in Jamaica Bay @gwirth over 5 years ago 3
Bayou St John, first sproutings and west protection berm @eustatic almost 6 years ago 4
Barataria 2014: VI June 12th @eustatic almost 6 years ago 3
June 1 Jamaica Bay wetland planting photography @liz almost 6 years ago 0
Planning Jamaica Bay mapping sites @liz almost 6 years ago 0
Delta St John: continued plantings @eustatic almost 6 years ago 6
Barataria 2014: April 19th Southwings 10 sites @eustatic almost 6 years ago 0
Barataria 2014: IV March 21st @eustatic almost 6 years ago 0
Barataria 2014: III February 27th @eustatic almost 6 years ago 0
Floating camera rig @eustatic about 6 years ago 7
Coulee Baker: documenting a DIY bayou in the Bayou St John "delta" @eustatic about 6 years ago 1
Barataria 2014: II February 16th @eustatic about 6 years ago 0
Mapping with balloons in Castellón and building community (results) @pablo about 6 years ago 13
Barataria 2014: I February 9th @eustatic about 6 years ago 8
Kite Fisheye Photos of Bayou St John restoration @eustatic about 6 years ago 0
Barataria Unit Tarpaper Canal (NW) Monitoring [18 Dec 2013] @mseibert over 6 years ago 4
Rulers Bar Island Wetland mapping @gwirth over 6 years ago 0
Restore the Earth Foundation Planting South Pass Crevasse with Willow and Cypress @eustatic over 6 years ago 2
Cartography Primer - Pamet Marsh @wward1400 over 6 years ago 4
Balloon mapping of wetlands near Clayton, NY @nedhorning over 6 years ago 5
Results from Aug 25, 2013 Tidmarsh Farms mapping @warren over 6 years ago 0
Balloon Mapping Wetland Forest Restoration Efforts at New Orleans Nature Center @eustatic over 6 years ago 0
Jamaica Bay Mapping -- Rescheduled to Saturday June 1st! @gwirth almost 7 years ago 1
Georectifying in the Wetlands @gonzoearth about 7 years ago 0
Yellow Bar Island Habitat Creation @gwirth over 7 years ago 4
Shannon Dosemagen Interviews Scott Eustis of Gulf Restoration Network @mathew over 7 years ago 0
Bayou Sauvage Draeger tubes after 4 days @Shannon over 7 years ago 9
Field test #2: H2S strip placement in Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans Parish, LA @Shannon over 7 years ago 1
Prep of canisters for photo strips @Shannon over 7 years ago 0
Bayou Sauvage Draeger tubes after 8 hours @Shannon over 7 years ago 0
Yellow Bar Island - Dredge Reuse and FAA permitting @gwirth over 7 years ago 8
photos of a (sub)urban forest recovery Post-Katrina @eustatic almost 8 years ago 0 : Louisiana coastal erosion being assessed with drones @Shannon almost 8 years ago 0
Western Carolina University students map on the SC Coast @adam-griffith almost 9 years ago 0
Quantify wetland from aerial UV photo @cesarharada about 9 years ago 1
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Project Pages

Here are some Public Lab projects that have been dedicated to the monitoring and protecting of wetlands: