Recognized across the globe every year on February 2nd, World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the vital role that wetlands play in the environmental health of the planet and the lives of people around the world. It marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971 and has been celebrated every year since 1997 with events, classroom activities and more.
The value of variety
As a group that works every day to identify, protect and monitor wetlands that are or may be impacted by any given project, Larson Design Group (LDG)’s Environmental Services Team believes in this international day of recognition as an important platform to highlight the significance of these ecosystems.
“We want to get the message out that wetlands are sometimes an afterthought in the planning of any given project, when in reality, it’s not only a requirement but a crucial aspect of the process,” said Josh Glace, Environmental Specialist in LDG’s Selinsgrove office. “Wetlands need to be watched and protected.”
The most basic definition of a wetland is an ecosystem inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, that is home to vegetation in the form of aquatic plants – but their overall role in the environmental health of the planet is much more vital than a simple description would indicate. Wetlands contain productive and incredibly diverse ecosystems that support a multitude of species and are responsible for many essential environmental functions, including stabilization of shorelines, water storage and purification, processing of carbon and other nutrients, and supporting a vast number of plants and animals.
“The habitats of wetlands vary widely from one to another – for example, an emergent wetland serves an entirely different group of animals and plants and has a different environmental function than a forested one,” said Monica Young, Environmental Specialist in LDG’s Williamsport office. “The science behind them is diverse as well. It’s never the same from one wetlands project to another.”
A surprising benefit
Raising awareness about this diversity – not only of wetland ecosystems but the varying approaches to protecting and restoring them around the world – is just one goal of World Wetlands Day, accomplished through events, classroom discussions and a month-long photo contest. However, it’s just as crucial to drive home the point that wetlands hold numerous benefits for everyone, and sometimes in unexpected ways.
“There’s a financial benefit to protecting wetlands – not only to the project, but to the economy in general – that people don’t fully understand, because it can be difficult to equate to a dollar amount,” said Monica Young. “But when you remember that coastal wetlands protect shorelines from flooding or storm surge during a hurricane, it’s easier to quantify their value monetarily.
“The use of wetlands as ‘green’ versions of stormwater control and for naturally filtering water is also growing in cities,” Young added. “Those are other functions of wetlands that people can definitely benefit from in terms of cost savings.”
“Our Environmental staff has roughly 50 years of experience, which brings a broad range of knowledge to LDG and to our clients,” said Amber Oyler, Environmental Manager. The Environmental Services Team excels in wetland delineation and mapping, as well as mitigation, restoration and enhancement, and state and federal permitting processes. LDG’s Environmental Services staff are located in Williamsport, Selinsgrove and Beaver, Pennsylvania.