What benefits do the Wetlands Provide?

wetlands benefitsWhat benefits do the Wetlands Provide?   

by Tavia Meares, Murphreesboro

Marshlands and wetlands may appear to serve no purpose to us, not many people live there, so why care? This could not be further from the truth. A large area of Louisiana is made up of wetlands, and this area is essential for the survival of not only Louisiana, but anyone that eats seafood here in America. There are seven main functions that the wetlands serve: culture, fisheries, habitat, navigation, oil and gas, storm protection,water quality and agriculture. All of these categories are an integrated part of the landscape of the wetlands, and one cannot be removed or damaged without effects reaching into all other areas.

Here are some quick statistics on how much we depend on this area: 25% of the seafood harvested in the United States comes from Louisiana (Louisiana’s Coast, 2012). Since there is a “dead zone” forming just off the coast, and the wetlands are being destroyed, the amount of available seafood will continue to decline rapidly. A “dead zone” is a zone where there is no oxygen in water, and therefore no life. Also, every 2.7 miles of wetland area absorbs about one foot of storm surge (Louisiana’s Coast).  This is why New Orleans did not flood 200 years ago when hurricanes hit, but then it did during Hurricane Katrina. If the buffer zone had still been intact, the pressure would not have been so great on the levies, and the outcome could have been drastically different.These statistics are just a small part of the issue, and only scratch the surface of what destruction of the wetlands can result in.  If Hurricane Katrina was bad, and we thought it was the end of New Orleans, just imagine what will happen 100 years from now when the entire area of protection is nonexistent.

Louisiana’s Coast.(2012). Coastal Protection and Restoration. Retrieved from http://coastal.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=112.

Robin Wade