This article is available also in spanish here

Pros and cons of living near wetlands

My list

Author | Lucía Burbano

For thousands of years, ancient civilizations have lived in river valleys formed by wetlands, swamps and marshes. And our ancestors did not choose these areas just by chance, since these coastal ecosystems are an essential source of water and various crops including rice (the most consumed cereal in the world with over 500 million tons consumed in 2021), as well as being a major cradle for biological diversity with vast species of animals and plants.

The environmental importance of wetlands

And not just that. Wetlands are one of the ecosystems that help absorb and store carbon dioxide to prevent it from being released into the atmosphere, which is known as blue carbon. They also supply drinking water. This is a well-known fact in Chennai, where the Pallikaranai wetland is located, one of the few surviving natural wetlands in South India.

Despite having this natural resource, the city's lack of water is an endemic problem. In 2019, Chennai's four reservoirs, with a capacity of 319 Mm3, were at 0.32% of their capacity. As a result, the government has to transport water from one end of the country to the other in trucks, with the resulting pollution caused by this activity.

To protect what little is left of the wetland ecosystems and to supply the population with drinking water, Chennai has taken matters into its own hands and invited ideas to be submitted that enable this natural resource to be managed in a more efficient and sustainable way.

Benefits of living near a wetland

wetlands 3

Source of tourism

Approximately 35% of the world's wetlands included in the Ramsar listform a prominent part of the tourism activity and attract thousands of visitors.

Some examples are the Karst underground wetlands of the Škocjan Caves in Slovenia, which receive around 100,000 visitors each year, and the Abrolhos Park in Brazil, which has established a limit of 225 visitors per day and only authorized vessels can access the area to observe marine turtles, corals, birds and humpback whales.

They function as a protective barrier

Wetlands function as natural sponges that protect the population from river swells. They act as climate regulators, they purify water and store carbon dioxide, regulating climate change.

Agriculture and aquaculture

Residents in wetland areas also benefit from both farming activities. In terms of aquaculture, this includes the cultivation of crustaceans, fish and mollusks, algae and other aquatic plants. Wetlands are great allies of agriculture, since they collaborate in getting flood water to recede on alluvial plains, rice fields and coastal wet grasslands and provide fertile soils and water.

Disadvantages of living near a wetland

wetlands 4

Fragile communities

Building on wetlands or on water in general, involves certain risks, since the land is not as stable as firm plots of land. If villages are not built with sufficient knowledge, there is a risk of the houses absorbing the humidity in the soil, or even worse, properties being damaged as a result of flooding.

Methane gas, as powerful or worse than CO2

Methane, a greenhouse gas that is as bad as CO2, although its decomposition time is shorter (12 years compared with 120 for CO2) occurs naturally on wetlands such as swamps and rice fields.

As we have seen, the conditions of wetlands favor the accumulation of carbon in the soil, helping to mitigate global warming. However, their characteristics favor the emission of methane, which is twenty times more powerful than CO2 in terms of warming the Earth. To reduce global warming, the emission of methane must be controlled and mitigated.

Photos | Easton Mok, Tyler Butler, USGS

Related content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Professional independent
Noemí Macià Acosta
Student and class representative
ericlegale Eric LEGALE
ericlegale Eric LEGALE
General Manager
Jeevan Singh Dosad
Jeevan Singh Dosad
Chitkara University
Anthony Medakovic
Anthony Medakovic
Technologies TCI Ltd.
Design, Develop and market cleantech smart city / smart island solutions
eduardo ramos
Nguyen Tuan
PwC Vietnam
Senior Associate in Financial Audit
Thorsten Schulte
Thorsten Schulte
Trenchless Development Manager
Vanessa Mertens
Steinbeis 2i Gmbh
Project Consultant Events
Rafael Osuna
Shouhang European
Eelco Kruizinga
Eelco Kruizinga
Smart Cities Marketplace
Matchmaking Specialist
Fernando Rojas
Jair Sevilla
Marketing Digital
Community Manager
Ernesto Chura Flores
Ernesto Chura Flores
Universidad Nacional del Altiplano Puno
Guenter Reuscher
Guenter Reuscher
VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH
Senior Consultant for Sustainable Innovations
BASS d.o.o. Bastl
BASS d.o.o.
We are the biggest software vendor for public services in Slovenia
Akhil Gaur
siffreinblanc Cecile
Bareja Solar Projects Pvt Ltd
Managing Director
ZG Lighting Iberia SL
General Manager Iberia

Thank you for registering to Tomorrow.City. You can now start exploring all the content for free!
Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$