Reef HQ Programs | Students | Reef Guardians | GBR Explorer | Visual Library | Reef Beat |

Why are Wetlands Important


Wetlands are important and valued environments for many reasons, some are listed below:

  • They are highly productive ecosystems, and are able to capture energy and provide food for many animals.
  • They provide important refuges for wildlife in times of drought.
  • They are naturally beautiful places and provide opportunities for recreation activities such as boating, swimming, bushwalking and bird watching.
  • They provide a natural water balance in the landscape and help to provide protection against floods.
  • They have a role in providing water quality protection in the catchment by filtering pollutants such as sediments, nutrients, organic and inorganic matter and bacteria.
  • They support a wide variety of flora (plants) and fauna (animals) and form different habitats and ecosystems.
  • They provide nursery areas for fish, and breeding grounds for wildlife, particularly waterbirds.
  • Wetlands provide vital habitat for some species of threatened fauna (animals). 
  • They provide refuge for migratory waterbirds that breed in the northern hemisphere in countries such as China and Siberia. Thousands of migratory waterbirds inhabit Australian wetlands each year.
  • Many wetlands, are of cultural significance to aboriginal people.
  • They provide opportunities for scientific research and are a source of education for the community.

Click on the picture of the storm water drain below to investigate some of the important jobs wetlands do.  This activity is provided by the Catchment Boards of South Australia.

Storm Water Drain

Storm water drains
Sometimes carry water from towns and cities out into wetlands

Wetlands are important ecosystems within the larger catchment area.  The activities that humans do with their catchment can either have good or bad affects on the catchment and the wetlands within it.  Click on the picture of the Ross River below and discover the good and bad impacts that human activities can have on catchments and wetlands.

Ross River

Ross River an important wetland within the Ross/Black Catchment Area

Concept Mapping

Water Lilly
 Water lily flower Nymphaea violacea

A concept map is a way of representing groups of ideas.  Concept maps are useful tools that can be used when preparing to write reports or assignments. They allow you to organise all of your ideas into particular focus areas and will help in making your reports and assignments flow in a logical order.  Click on the water lily flower and print out your concept mapping information sheets. 

Think of your local wetland, firstly develop a a set of key concepts and then use these to create a concept map for your local wetland.

The following links may be very helpful when developing your concept map:

National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research

Environmental Protection Agency/Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service

NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources

Cause and Effect Wheel

A cause and effect wheel is a diagram, which will prove helpful when organising your ideas in preparation for developing your communication tools within the Taking Action section of this web quest. 

 Rowing and fishing are two examples of how people use wetlands for fun.

Click on the picture of people enjoying their local wetland and print out the example of how to create a cause and effect wheel.

Develop your own cause and effect wheel around the following issue:

"Protecting Wetlands for Future Generations"

Possible and Preferable Futures

What does the future hold for your local wetland?  This will really depend on how humans choose to use their wetlands and the impacts that their activities will have on these special environments.  An interesting way to picture the future is by developing a futures timeline.  This timeline is a little different because it does not end at the present day it has two branches on the end.  These branches represent Possible and Preferable Futures for a place. 

Click on the "Preferable Future" picture below and print out the information sheet that explains how to create a futures timeline.  Think of your local wetland and develop a futures timeline for it.





Possible Future 
Wetland ecosystem choked with introduced water plants
Preferable Future 
Balanced wetland ecosystem that supports many species of plants and animals

Enter Exploring Wetlands Virtual Fieldtrip
Click on the Exploring Wetlands Virtual Fieldtrip icon to begin the interactive component of this webquest