Wetlands Work Wonders!

Wetlands Work Wonders!... for the Climate

The climate of our planet is like a giant clock mechanism. All the modes are dependent on each other and interact in a dynamic equilibrium. Both the huge ones – like the oceans, the great ocean currents or high mountains and the smallest - the local wetlands and forests - all have their irreplaceable role to play: they shape the climate of our region, country, continent and finally, the climate of the whole Earth. One of the main modes in the Earth's climate clock are wetlands. Although today they occupy less than 3% of the planet surface, their role is far more important than it might be deducted from such statistics.

And all thanks to the unusual, almost "miraculous" properties of peat and plants living in wetalnds! Peat and swamp vegetation, which is formed like a sponge, absorb and store water when there is too much of it – thus protecting us from floods. When there is not enough water around – they release the accumulated stocks and protect us in this way from drought. And finally, like any sponge, wetlands cleanse and purify - soil, water and air ... This is because peat binds large amounts of carbon dioxide and stores is.

Marshes (bogs) are formed wherever the water’s drainage is impeded. In such places the remains of dead plants are only partially decomposed because water cuts off oxygen. The result is peat. Over the years and centuries, its form successive layers of several meters. The process of such build-up continues until there is water in the soil. When there seasonal lack of water - nothing bad happens. After all, bogs have evolved through normal water use – they retain it and release it according to needs. However when there is permanent lack of water, as is the case human drainage, peat starts to decompose releasing carbon dioxide accumulated over hundreds and thousands of years.

The increase of this gas, associated mainly with human activities, is the major cause of adverse climate change which we are experiencing today. Unfortunately, in Poland, as a result of massive drainage up to 83% of wetlands have been destroyed. It is estimated that in those areas – drained and cut by draining canals, every year 14 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere adding to the carbon produced by the industry and exacerbating the already disastrous climatic balance.

The whole civilized world is talking today about reducing CO2 emissions and is looking for ways to reduce such emmissions through the revitalization of formerly drained wetlands. In many countries this is done on a large scale. Meanwhile, in this country, each year further stretches of wetlands disappear under excavators. 10 tonnes per capita! So much carbon dioxide is produced in Poland annually. It only depends on us if this number will increase because of the devastation of the marshes, swamps and bogs. Wetlands are not only good but necessary!