Importance of Great Lakes Wetlands

Importance of Great Lakes Wetlands

Great Lakes coastal wetlands are interfaces between land and water and are directly influenced by the waters of the Great Lakes. Coastal wetlands:

• are a complex biological and hydrological system offering irreplaceable habitat and nesting, feeding and staging areas for a diverse range of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish including endangered or threatened species

• help reduce sediment, nutrient and contaminant loading, making them essential sites for water quality improvement

• provide shoreline protection

• act as a reservoir helping to control and reduce flooding through water storage and retention

• provide drought mitigation

• provide a major source of oxygen and play a vital role in the natural evapotranspiration and climatic cycle

• are important carbon sinks, critical in the face of climate change

• provide numerous passive recreational opportunities

• provide a living classroom for educational studies and scientific research

• support tourism and economic growth

• are a place to connect to nature and recharge body, mind and spirit.

More than 70% of southern Ontario’s wetlands, and more than 90% of wetlands in the Greater Toronto Area, have disappeared since 1900 due to urban and rural development, drainage and pollution, taking with them important habitats and vital ecological services. As our valuable wetlands disappear or are diminished in function, the work of Friends of Second Marsh is all the more important as public awareness and education is critical to restoring and maintaining remaining wetland biodiversity.  Second Marsh is one of the last, and the largest (137 ha) most biodiverse coastal wetland on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

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