Wetlands are areas wherein water is the main factor controlling the environment, thereby affecting the animal and plant life. It can be found where water usually covers the surface of the land permanently or temporarily. Wetlands in essence are ecotones and various species of plants and animals rely heavily for survival in these wet places (See “Conservation and Wetlands”). Some wetlands are easily identified because of their obvious wetness all throughout the year or because of their unique vegetation.
However, it is important to look beyond plants for its identification and may require soil properties to confirm its status. There are plants that grow uniquely in wetlands and water bodies, but most of this vegetation grows in uplands or non wetlands to varying degrees. Unlike common perceptions, it is more than just mud and mosquitoes. It is a highly essential part of the ecosystem and since it hosts a variety of plants and animals, it is considered to be one of the world’s most productive environments.
Its value has considerably been recognized and many parts of the world such as the United Kingdom, USA, and New Zealand are gaining in their efforts for its conservation. But what is wetland by definition? In 1890, the earliest definition of wetland used by the United States came from a federal government report which states that: “all wetlands… in which the natural declivity is insufficient, when the forest cover is removed, to reduce the soil to the measure of dryness necessary for agriculture. Wherever any form of engineering is necessary to secure this desiccation, the area is classified as swamp.
” Areas then, for a long time, were considered wetlands if they are either too wet to farm or too wet to build upon without draining or filling (See “Wetland Primer”). Currently, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Federal Register 1982) together with EPA (Federal Register 1980), defines wetlands as: “Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions”.