Environmental importance of wetlands

Wetlands are ecosystems whose ecology is determined by the presence of water. That is why they are inhabited by animals and plants whose needs or life cycles are closely linked to water. There are marine (salty) and freshwater wetlands.

They can be completely under water throughout the year, they can be under water in certain periods, under shallow water or very moist soil. Wetlands include freshwater and brackish lakes, rivers, springs, swamps and marshes, wet meadows, bogs, oases, river estuaries and deltas, flood-meadows, as well as manmade habitats: fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt fields.

Wet ecosystems are of critical importance both for people and for the environment because they are an important segment of circulation of matter on the planet and have various roles, such as: environmental, climate, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational as well as aesthetic and spiritual.

Photo: Teona Mango

The biodiversity of wetlands is important for people’s health, food and for development of tourism – particularly for alternative forms of tourism linked to natural values, which are the main tool for local socio-economic development.

Wetlands are of particular importance for people and addressing climate change because they offer various ecosystem services, such as: regulation of water levels, defence against floods and water purification. Wetlands are considered a trademark of the entire Bregalnica region. Bregalnica River, from its spring in the Maleshevo Mountains, along its course and all the way to the estuary in Vardar, weaves through various types of wetlands. Osogovo and Maleshevo are dotted with many small mountain lakes and puddles, while the region also has large water reservoirs of great importance for all aquatic animals.

That is why one of the activities of the Nature Conservation Programme in North Macedonia is to improve the state of wetlands in the Bregalnica basin by exploration, preservation and promotion of sustainable practices.

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