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What are wetlands?

Wetlands are places that are saturated with water, either salt or fresh. Wetlands include areas on the edges of larger water bodies including lakes, oceans, bayous, rivers and deltas. There are also wetlands that are independent from bodies of water, but remain saturated seasonally or year around. You can read more about wetland types from NOAA here and from the EPA here.

Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands are beneficial for wildlife and human health for many reasons. They provide natural water filtration, storm protection, and flood control. They also support the breeding grounds for most aquatic life, and many bird species.

The Destruction of Wetlands

Wetlands are often destroyed in land development projects, harmed by pollution events from industry and susceptible to being destroyed with land subsidence and sea level rise. When wetlands are destroyed, the land is less able to absorb water. This causes communities to become more susceptible to flooding and storm surges. "Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water for their citizens, floods are more devastating to nearby communities, storm surges from hurricanes can penetrate farther inland, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted, along with livelihoods." Read more about the destruction of wetlands from World Wildlife Fund here.

How are wetlands protected?

In the US, many states have regulations that help to protect wetlands. The Clean Water Act is the primary federal protection legislation, through it five federal agencies are charged with protecting various aspects of the wetland health, "The [Army] Corps' duties are related to navigation and water supply. The EPA's authorities are related to protecting wetlands primarily for their contributions to the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. The [Fish and Wildlife Services'] authorities are related to managing fish and wildlife-game species and threatened and endangered species. Wetland authority of NOAA lies in its charge to manage the Nation's coastal resources. The NRCS focuses on wetlands affected by agricultural activities." Read more on USGS's page on legislation here.

Federally and regionally there are many groups who work on wetland protections. You can read about how groups like Healthy Gulf work to protect wetlands in places they are threatened such as Louisiana.

Wetlands Monitoring Activities

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Balloon map of south Bonfouca cel USFWS planting with PIES and TOES @eustatic over 1 year ago 197
Landfill mapping with Oakville Community Action Group @a1ahna almost 2 years ago 2
Sustain the Nine: Resilience in the Lower Ninth Ward @joyofsoy almost 2 years ago 1
Cheap multispectral camera @maykef about 2 years ago 21
Check up on Bayou Bienvenue 22 August 2018 @eustatic about 2 years ago 7
Event: Mapping wetlands and algae blooms @stevie over 2 years ago 1
Request for kite/balloon mapping help at Tidmarsh Farms wetlands restoration in Plymouth MA @warren about 3 years ago 0
Video: The Meadowlands With Hackensack Riverkeeper @zengirl2 over 3 years ago 0
How to visually document a site @stevie over 3 years ago 1
MapKnitter map of Bayou Uhlan PPigeon 12 jan 2017 @eustatic almost 4 years ago 0
Mapping Rural Alberta's Wetlands @Rural over 4 years ago 14
Wetland Watchers July 2015 @eustatic over 5 years ago 5
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School @Travis over 5 years ago 1
Wetland Watchers map note, 12 dec 2014 @eustatic almost 6 years ago 2
Having Fun while Exploring a Sinking World @eymund almost 6 years ago 3
next attempts at dye tracing @liz about 6 years ago 5
[Reference] Bay Denesse and Plaquemines Bayou aerial photo history 2 @eustatic about 6 years ago 5
[Reference] west bay USGS aerial photography for land change analysis @eustatic about 6 years ago 4
Reference graphic, Barataria work @eustatic about 6 years ago 0
2011 Barataria Bay mapping fieldnotes, maps, mapping tracks, images @Shannon about 6 years ago 0
Preliminary Stitch of Dredge Island Planting Day in Jamaica Bay @gwirth over 6 years ago 3
Bayou St John, first sproutings and west protection berm @eustatic over 6 years ago 4
Barataria 2014: VI June 12th @eustatic over 6 years ago 3
June 1 Jamaica Bay wetland planting photography @liz over 6 years ago 0
Planning Jamaica Bay mapping sites @liz over 6 years ago 0
Delta St John: continued plantings @eustatic over 6 years ago 6
Barataria 2014: April 19th Southwings 10 sites @eustatic over 6 years ago 0
Barataria 2014: IV March 21st @eustatic over 6 years ago 0
Barataria 2014: III February 27th @eustatic over 6 years ago 0
Floating camera rig @eustatic over 6 years ago 6
Coulee Baker: documenting a DIY bayou in the Bayou St John "delta" @eustatic over 6 years ago 1
Barataria 2014: II February 16th @eustatic over 6 years ago 0
Mapping with balloons in Castellón and building community (results) @pablo over 6 years ago 13
Barataria 2014: I February 9th @eustatic over 6 years ago 8
Kite Fisheye Photos of Bayou St John restoration @eustatic almost 7 years ago 0
Barataria Unit Tarpaper Canal (NW) Monitoring [18 Dec 2013] @mseibert almost 7 years ago 4
Rulers Bar Island Wetland mapping @gwirth almost 7 years ago 0
Restore the Earth Foundation Planting South Pass Crevasse with Willow and Cypress @eustatic almost 7 years ago 2
Cartography Primer - Pamet Marsh @wward1400 almost 7 years ago 4
Balloon mapping of wetlands near Clayton, NY @nedhorning about 7 years ago 5
Results from Aug 25, 2013 Tidmarsh Farms mapping @warren about 7 years ago 0
Balloon Mapping Wetland Forest Restoration Efforts at New Orleans Nature Center @eustatic about 7 years ago 0
Jamaica Bay Mapping -- Rescheduled to Saturday June 1st! @gwirth over 7 years ago 1
Georectifying in the Wetlands @gonzoearth almost 8 years ago 0
Yellow Bar Island Habitat Creation @gwirth about 8 years ago 4
Shannon Dosemagen Interviews Scott Eustis of Gulf Restoration Network @mathew about 8 years ago 0
Bayou Sauvage Draeger tubes after 4 days @Shannon about 8 years ago 9
Field test #2: H2S strip placement in Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans Parish, LA @Shannon about 8 years ago 1
Prep of canisters for photo strips @Shannon about 8 years ago 0
Bayou Sauvage Draeger tubes after 8 hours @Shannon about 8 years ago 0
Yellow Bar Island - Dredge Reuse and FAA permitting @gwirth over 8 years ago 8
photos of a (sub)urban forest recovery Post-Katrina @eustatic over 8 years ago 0 : Louisiana coastal erosion being assessed with drones @Shannon over 8 years ago 0
Wetlands erosion in Bayou St Denis, Louisiana @warren about 9 years ago 0
Western Carolina University students map on the SC Coast @adam-griffith over 9 years ago 0
Quantify wetland from aerial UV photo @cesarharada over 9 years ago 1
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Project Pages

Here are some Public Lab projects that have been dedicated to the monitoring and protecting of wetlands:

Wikis related to wetlands:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Infragram 6 months ago by liz 116 14,349 17
Barataria Bay Mapping Project 11 months ago by warren 43 713 1
Madeira almost 3 years ago by warren 14 244 1
Stitching Images into Maps over 3 years ago by warren 14 922 5
Urban Waters Mapping, NOLA over 3 years ago by stevie 84 550 4
Open Land over 4 years ago by eustatic 3 165 1
Understanding your wetland site over 4 years ago by liz 34 173 5
Wetlands Toolkit almost 5 years ago by gretchengehrke 19 2,099 15
Wetlands project? Start here about 5 years ago by liz 5 138 0
wetlands-advocacy about 5 years ago by gretchengehrke 13 137 0
Lesson 1: Wetlands, Water, & Oil curricular standards over 5 years ago by Shannon 5 194 0
Public Lab Lesson 3: Photography in a New Light over 5 years ago by gretchengehrke 15 968 5
Public Lab Lesson 2: More Than Meets the Eye over 5 years ago by gretchengehrke 11 453 0
Public Lab Lesson 1: Wetlands, Water, & Oil over 5 years ago by gretchengehrke 12 898 2
Wetlands remote sensing and management lesson plans over 5 years ago by Shannon 8 231 0
Tracking recreated wetlands in Jamaica Bay: Gena Wirth and the Dredge Collaborative over 5 years ago by mollydanielsson 2 155 0