Wetlands around the World

Let’s take a brief glance at wetlands around the world. Wetlands exist in many climates and on every continent except Antarctica. Considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, wetlands provide habitat for an array of water, land, and migratory bird species. The wetlands highlighted include swamps, bogs, marshes, estuaries, floodplains, lakes and many other types.

The Pantanal

The Pantanal is located in the heart of South America and is the world’s largest wetland that has not been significantly modified by humans. The Pantanal is often referred to as South America’s biggest biodiversity star stretching across Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Its complex system of marshlands, floodplains, lagoons and interconnected drainage lines is home to over 4,700 species of plants and animals. The array of life in the Pantanal relies on an annual flooding cycle. The cycle of waters rising and then receding through the dry season nurtures a biologically diverse group of plants and is essential to preserve a healthy ecosystem.

Camargue

The Camargue, also referred to as the Rhone River Delta, is an alluvial plain located in the Southeast of France. Roughly a third of the Camargue wetlands are either lakes or marsh. This wetland is one of the most highly rated places in Europe for birdwatching. The area is historically famous for the greater flamingo and Camargue’s horses. If you are enticed to visit the Camargue, be sure to look into horseback riding on this special breed of horses.

Kafue Flats

Located in central Zambia, the Kafue flats consist of a unique variety of wetland types. The landscape located along the Kafue River includes grasslands, lagoons, swamps and marshes. This wetland is extremely important to Zambia for hosting wildlife, fishing, sugarcane farming and the production of hydro-electric power. Within the Kafue National Park you can spot a number of safari camps and lodges that have brought new interest to the area and attract many tourists.

kafue flats

Sundarbans

The meaning of “Sundarbans” is beautiful forests, which perfectly fits the name for the largest mangrove forest in the world. The region is also home to Sundari trees growing in salty coastal waters. These are a special kind of mangrove tree with roots called pneumatophores that emerge above the ground and aid in gaseous exchange. Along with serving as home to Sundari trees, this wetland region has possibly the largest population of Bengal tigers in the world. These tigers can be found swimming in the saline waters of this unique habitat in the same areas used by people.

sundarbans

LaBranche East Marsh Creation

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Dredging of access and flotation canals for the construction
of I-10 and the Illinois Central Railroad resulted in increased
salinity and altered hydrology in the area that exacerbated
the conversion of wetland vegetation into shallow open
water bodies.

The project’s primary goal is to restore marsh that has been
converted to open water. Project implementation will result
in an increase of wildlife and fisheries habitat, acreage and
diversity, along with improving water quality. In addition,
the project will provide a storm buffer protection to I-10, the
region’s primary westward hurricane evacuation route, and
complement hurricane protection measures in the area.
Project features consist of the creation of 729 acres of marsh
and the nourishment of 202 acres of existing marsh using
dedicated dredging from Lake Pontchartrain. In addition,
10,000 linear feet of tidal creeks will be created. The marsh
creation area will have a target elevation the same as average
healthy marsh for this region. Plans are to place the dredge
material in the target area with the use of low level, noncontinuous
retention dikes along the edge of the project area
allowing overtopping of material to nourish the marsh fringe.
Vegetative plantings will be utilized in the areas deemed
most critical by the project team. Successful wetland
restoration in the immediate area (PO-17) clearly
demonstrates the suitability and stability of soil and material
availability from a sustainable borrow area.

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The project features are located between Lake Pontchartrain
and I-10 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. It is bounded on
the west by the Fall Canal and the Bayou LaBranche
Wetland Creation Project (PO-17) and the east by a pipeline
canal.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 19.

The LaBranche East Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

 

Freshwater Wetlands

Freshwater habitats come in many forms ranging from glaciers to lakes, rivers, and wetlands. These freshwater ecosystems represent less than one percent of the planet’s surface while supporting over 100,000 species including but not limited to fish, frogs, worms, crawfish, and birds and mammals nesting and feeding in wetland vegetation. While serving as habitat for a large number of animals, freshwater wetlands are also home to a variety of plant types. Cattails are a common sight around freshwater lakes and marshes and help in maintaining a healthy ecosystem by filtering runoff as it flows into lakes and serving as a protectant against shoreline erosion. Floating plants, such as duckweed, are a favorite food for many ducks and geese that populate the area.

Freshwater wetlands may stay wet year-round or evaporate during the dry season. Freshwater habitats are some of the most endangered habitats in the world. Human development, agriculture, and pollution are leading factors that put the availability of freshwater at risk. Saltwater intrusion is another underlying factor interrupting the natural conditions of water quality. These impacts have extreme consequences for our freshwater biodiversity, economy, and our well-being. Louisiana’s freshwater wetlands along the coast and other areas are disappearing at a high rate. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act implements projects in an effort to preserve freshwater ecosystems.

 

Waterfowl of the Wetlands

One of the best known and most recognizable functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds and other species. While visiting a wetland, you are likely to see a range of waterfowl activity. The value wetlands provide to a bird species greatly depends on water availability, depth, and quality; the availability of food and shelter; and the presence of predators. The presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding attracts different bird species.

The state of Louisiana lies in the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route that generally follows the Mississippi River. This migration corridor is the greatest and most heavily-used in North America. Providing habitat to more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are of great importance to these birds and the people who enjoy observing and hunting them. It is vital to waterfowl that we protect and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to continue providing a healthy habitat for birds that are migrating. If we continue to lose these precious wetlands, Louisiana will lose its iconic role as “Sportsman’s Paradise” and waterfowl populations will suffer.

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Cheniere Ronquille Barrier Island Restoration

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This area is undergoing shoreline erosion, interior wetland
loss, overwash, and breakup. The Gulf shoreline erosion rate
has doubled from 1988 to 2006. Project area marshes also
are being eroded at -11.8 ft/yr between 2003 to 2006 as well
as being converted to open water from internal breakup.

Restoration would expand the Gulf shoreline structural
integrity and associated protection by tying into two recently
constructed projects to the east and address one of the
remaining reaches of the Barataria/Plaquemines shoreline.
The design includes fill for a beach and dune plus 20-years
of advanced maintenance fill, as well as fill for marsh
creation/nourishment. The location of the type and amount
of sediment needed to construct this project already has been
identified under the East Grand Terre Project that is presently
under construction. Approximately 127 acres of beach/dune
fill would be constructed and approximately 259 acres of
marsh creation/nourishment would be constructed. Intensive
dune plantings would be conducted by seeding and installing
approved nursery stock. About half of the
marsh platform would be planted with cordgrass and
portions of the dune, swale, and marsh would be planted
with appropriate woody species. Containment dikes would
be breached no later than year three to allow tidal exchange
with the created marsh.

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The project is located in Region 2, within the Barataria Basin
portion of Plaquemines Parish.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 19.

The Cheniere Ronquille Barrier Island Restoration project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

 

Let’s Go Fishing

If you enjoy recreational fishing, eating fish, or just the beauty of fish, keep reading to find out more about how wetlands impact the survival of fish populations.

When wetlands are degraded or destroyed, it becomes a challenge for fish populations to survive and grow. Wetlands support fish survival through functions like food production, spawning and nursery habitat, protection from predators, and the reduction of water pollutants, to name a few. Wetland vegetation and dead plant material are constantly utilized by fish as a food source, refuge, natural filtration device, and a barrier to changing weather conditions.

toledobend-fishing

The loss of wetlands leads to reduced fish populations which affect the natural ecosystem, as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Food webs have a delicate balance, and with wetlands dissipating, you can expect a shift in fish and wildlife populations and human consumption. While fish rely on wetlands for food, humans depend on wetlands for food, too. Crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, and fish are some of the tastiest wetland delicacies that humans enjoy eating.

bass fish

Are you curious as to which fish you can find in wetlands? Well, that depends entirely on the wetland type, geographic location, and its salinity. Common fish found in the Gulf Coast region are: shrimp because of the amount of wetland acres and amount of edge between wetlands and open waters; blue crab, which depend on the seagrass beds for food and refuge; and striped bass, which are a popular recreation fish. You can also find many other fish and crustaceans in Louisiana’s wetlands.

 

The Louisiana Iris

What we typically refer to as the Louisiana iris actually consists of five species native to Louisiana and surrounding regions in the Southeastern United States. Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris giganticaerulea, Iris hexagona and Iris nelsonii are known as the Louisiana irises. These five species participate in interbreeding which results in the variety of irises we grow today.

It is suggested to plant Louisiana iris between the months of August and September when they are dormant for optimal results. However, if you prefer to pick out the colors and types of flowers, it is best to wait until the flowers are in bloom to be sure of what you are planting. Garden cultivation and hybridizing have caused Louisiana iris to bloom in shades of blue, red, yellow, pink, brown, white, purple, and more. The wide range of colors and native quality make it an attractive addition to aquatic gardens and ordinary flower beds. Louisiana irises will grow best with as much direct sunlight as possible.

Within their native habitats, irises often grow along freshwater bayous and sloughs. This wetland vegetation has little tolerance for salt water. The Louisiana iris is at risk due to dredging through wetlands leading to saltwater intrusion. CWPPRA hydrologic restoration and freshwater diversion projects help regulate salinity and restore the natural hydrology of wetlands, ultimately preserving the iris as well as other native plants and animals. Learn more about how to #ProtectOurCoast and its native species at lacoast.gov.