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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
Seeking a Water Research Curation Fellow @bhamster 9 months ago 0
Balloon map of south Bonfouca cel USFWS planting with PIES and TOES @eustatic over 2 years ago 1
Landfill mapping with Oakville Community Action Group @a1ahna about 3 years ago 2
Sustain the Nine: Resilience in the Lower Ninth Ward @joyofsoy about 3 years ago 2
Cheap multispectral camera @maykef over 3 years ago 16
Check up on Bayou Bienvenue 22 August 2018 @eustatic over 3 years ago 5
Event: Mapping wetlands and algae blooms @stevie over 3 years ago 1
Request for kite/balloon mapping help at Tidmarsh Farms wetlands restoration in Plymouth MA @warren over 4 years ago 0
Video: The Meadowlands With Hackensack Riverkeeper @zengirl2 over 4 years ago 0
How to visually document a site @stevie almost 5 years ago 1
MapKnitter map of Bayou Uhlan PPigeon 12 jan 2017 @eustatic about 5 years ago 0
Mapping Rural Alberta's Wetlands @Rural almost 6 years ago 13
Wetland Watchers July 2015 @eustatic over 6 years ago 5
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School @Travis over 6 years ago 1
Wetland Watchers map note, 12 dec 2014 @eustatic about 7 years ago 2
Having Fun while Exploring a Sinking World @eymund about 7 years ago 3
next attempts at dye tracing @liz over 7 years ago 5
[Reference] Bay Denesse and Plaquemines Bayou aerial photo history 2 @eustatic over 7 years ago 5
[Reference] west bay USGS aerial photography for land change analysis @eustatic over 7 years ago 4
Reference graphic, Barataria work @eustatic over 7 years ago 0
2011 Barataria Bay mapping fieldnotes, maps, mapping tracks, images @Shannon over 7 years ago 0
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Project Pages

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

Wikis related to wetlands:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Infragram 9 months ago by warren 117 18,325 18
Wetlands over 1 year ago by bhamster 8 182 0
Barataria Bay Mapping Project about 2 years ago by warren 43 940 2
Madeira about 4 years ago by warren 14 318 1
Stitching Images into Maps almost 5 years ago by warren 14 1,797 5
Urban Waters Mapping, NOLA almost 5 years ago by stevie 84 983 5
Open Land almost 6 years ago by eustatic 3 237 1
Understanding your wetland site almost 6 years ago by liz 34 291 5
Wetlands Toolkit about 6 years ago by gretchengehrke 19 2,308 15
Wetlands project? Start here over 6 years ago by liz 5 178 0
wetlands-advocacy over 6 years ago by gretchengehrke 13 240 1
Lesson 1: Wetlands, Water, & Oil curricular standards over 6 years ago by Shannon 5 277 0
Public Lab Lesson 3: Photography in a New Light over 6 years ago by gretchengehrke 15 1,163 5
Public Lab Lesson 2: More Than Meets the Eye over 6 years ago by gretchengehrke 11 758 0
Public Lab Lesson 1: Wetlands, Water, & Oil over 6 years ago by gretchengehrke 12 1,187 2
Wetlands remote sensing and management lesson plans over 6 years ago by Shannon 8 313 0
Tracking recreated wetlands in Jamaica Bay: Gena Wirth and the Dredge Collaborative almost 7 years ago by mollydanielsson 2 208 0