Wetlands offer a diversity of benefits for people and wildlife.
Our wetlands provide essential resources for fish, plants and animals, including food, water, habitat and shelter. They also remove nutrient pollution from runoff and recharge aquifers. They protect communities from flooding and coastal storm surges, and help slow the speed of groundwater and surface water.
Wetlands capture carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, helping to prevent climate change. Wetlands cover only a small percentage of the planet, but they store about 50 times more carbon than rain forests.
In addition to providing a rich variety of ecosystem services, wetlands also offer recreation and beauty. They create recreational opportunities for a wide range of activities, from hunting and fishing to bird watching, paddling, hiking and photography.
Countless people visit and enjoy wetlands for outdoor recreation every year. In fact, nearly half of all US adults hunt, fish or birdwatch at least once a year.
These activities support a robust fishing industry, which generates about $72 billion in annual sales impact and supports 470,000 U.S. jobs.
Wetlands provide vital spawning and nursery habitat for many estuarine and marine fish and shellfish, including menhaden, flounder, sea trout, spot, croaker and striped bass. These important commercial and game fish depend on wetlands for their habitat, food and protection from predators. Wetland areas also serve as important migratory refuges for birds such as waterfowl, ducks and geese, providing an invaluable benefit to the United States economy.