The significance of wetlands
Wetlands play a vital role in the functions of our planet. They provide ecosystem services that are fundamental to our very existence. They regulate our climate, provide fresh water, support the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle and provide cultural, spiritual and recreational facilities which are essential to our holistic health and wellbeing.
Wetlands provide a unique and aesthetic landscape of cultural, historic or spiritual meaning. Many religions and cultures attach spiritual values to aspects of wetland ecosystems.
“Man is part of nature’s ecosystem. No matter how much he might try to isolate himself in a concrete jungle, Man cannot get away from the fact that he relies for his health and wellbeing on ecosystems and ecosystems in turn rely for their health and wellbeing on man. If man pollutes and destroys an ecosystem that ecosystem can no longer work to sustain man”(Wheater, 2014)
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Ecosystems are a community of animals and plants interacting with one another and with their physical environment such as soils, water and nutrients that support the organisms living with them (WHO, 2005).
One of the services provided by ecosystems is cultural services.
Cultural services are the provision of spiritual, aesthetic, educational and recreational opportunities.
“Nature is as necessary to man as man is to nature. Without nature we cannot survive but as we become more urbanised as a society so we become more distanced from our natural roots”(Wheater, 2014).
The World Health Organisation is now recognising the immense value of nature in the prevention of mental illness, work-related stress, ADHD, directed attention fatigue, hepatitis, obesity and depression in children.
Pretty et al have shown that green exercise has important implications for public and environmental health.
“The increasing restriction over the years to children’s freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction is one of the main reasons for the rise in children’s depression” (Gray, 2010).
A pdf copy of the booklet “Healthy Wetlands Healthy People” is available here. The file size is 2.4MB.