Wetlands play a crucial role in Alberta’s wilderness by providing habitat for hundreds of species. These permanent or temporary wet areas cover approximately twenty percent of the province and are essential to the water cycle and aquifer replenishment. Wetlands are capable of absorbing large amounts of water making them invaluable to flood mitigation. Additionally, the wide variety of soils and microorganisms in wetlands help to filter water of harmful toxins making it safer for animals and humans to consume.
There are five classes of wetland which may be identified based on the source of water, presence of peat and the types of vegetation supported. These include marshes, ponds, swamps, fens and bogs which may be found across the prairies and forests of Alberta.
Each type of wetland is home to many species ranging from zooplankton through to moose. Grasses, shrubs, and trees also feature differently in each wetland class, but all help to provide food and shelter to fish, frogs, birds, rodents and larger mammals. This makes wetlands a great place for people to experience biodiversity and engage with nature because there are so many opportunities to witness animals in action! If you’re lucky, you may see a beaver or muskrat busy at work, a paddling of ducks, brightly coloured migratory birds or a deer stopping to drink. Looking closer, you will likely find the water is teaming with tadpoles, water striders or snails.
While wetlands have often been viewed as a nuisance in the past, their value is increasingly recognized and measures are being taken to protect these areas and the animals that call them home.
You can help by learning more about wetlands and by supporting AIWC’s rehabilitation of wetland wildlife. By dropping off donations from our Wish List, participating in our annual Month of May Baby Shower or signing up for our next Volunteer intake in September, you will be contributing to the recovery and release of wetland creatures.
By Stephanie Ruddock, AIWC Volunteer