Category:Wetlands

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What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are amazing and complex ecosystems that occur in many different sizes and forms. Wetlands are areas either temporarily or permanently covered by water and can be either natural or artificial with water that is still or flowing, fresh, brackish (slightly salty) or salty. This includes marine water which is no more than six metres deep at low tide.

Types of Wetlands

There are many different types of wetlands and their form and functions vary, depending on factors such as the water source, water quality (eg. fresh or salt), geographical location and the type of vegetation surrounding the wetland.The structure of a wetland also depends on the amount and frequency of flooding in the area. Largely, wetlands can be categorised into two main types:

  • Saltwater wetlands are coral reefs, seagrass meadows, saltmarshes, mudflats, mangrove areas and estuaries.
  • Freshwater wetlands can be flowing or still, such as swamps, billabongs, oxbow lakes or rivers.

Role of wetlands – improving water quality

Wetland ecosystems provide many benefits and services to society, the environment, plants and animals, and the Great Barrier Reef.Wetlands are often described as “the kidneys of the landscape” because of their ability to filter and remove some pollutants from runoff waters and improve water quality. When water flows through a catchment, it carries nutrients and sediments with it, which have originated from a range of land-based sources such as soil erosion, fertilisers, animal waste on farms or detergents from households.When water enters a wetland, it slows down and spreads out into a larger area.The slow moving water currents in a wetland allow the nutrients and sediments in suspension to settle out, which along with the dense vegetation in the wetland, helps to filter out many of the nutrients, sediments and other pollutants before they flow out of the wetland and potentially enter the Reef.This means that the water flowing out of a wetland will generally be cleaner than the water coming in.

Wongaloo wetlands looking to ranges © NQ Dry Tropics 2010
Wongaloo wetlands looking to ranges © NQ Dry Tropics 2010

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Wetlands within the Burdekin Dry Tropics Region

Pages in category "Wetlands"

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