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What Are Wetlands, Why They Matter, and How You Can Help

Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth, providing numerous benefits to both humans and wildlife. They play a vital role in flood control, carbon sequestration, and water purification, while supporting a wide variety of plant and animal species, many of which are rare or endangered. In this article, we explore the importance of wetlands, with a particular focus on The Los Cerritos Wetlands in Southern California. We also discuss the restoration efforts of Tidal Influence and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority, and how individuals can get involved in preserving this valuable ecosystem. By working together, we can protect and restore the wetlands and contribute to the health of the planet as a whole.


(I recently had the opportunity to participate in the restoration of The Los Cerritos Wetlands in Southern California. This salt marsh complex is a crucial habitat for endangered species and an essential component of our planet's health and biodiversity.)


Wetlands

Wetlands are areas of land where water covers the soil or is present at or near the surface for at least part of the year. They include marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens, and are found all over the world. Wetlands are important for many reasons, including:


  • Biodiversity: Wetlands support a diverse range of plant and animal species, many of which are rare or endangered. They are home to numerous species of birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, as well as a wide variety of plants.

  • Water purification: Wetlands act as natural filters, removing pollutants and excess nutrients from the water. They are important for maintaining water quality, preventing pollution, and protecting human health.

  • Flood control: Wetlands absorb and store large amounts of water, which helps to reduce the impact of floods and storm surges. They act as natural sponges, slowing down the flow of water and reducing erosion.

  • Carbon sequestration: Wetlands store large amounts of carbon, which helps to mitigate the impacts of climate change. They are important carbon sinks, which help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  • Recreation: Wetlands provide opportunities for recreational activities such as bird watching. They also offer educational opportunities for people to learn about the natural world.

Wetlands are crucial to the health of our planet and are essential for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Protecting and restoring wetlands is critical for the well-being of both people and the environment.


The Los Cerritos Wetlands

The Los Cerritos Wetlands in Southern California are a valuable ecological asset, yet they are one of the last remaining salt marsh complexes in the region that need to be restored. Thanks to Tidal Influence, an ecological consulting firm, volunteers can participate in habitat restoration efforts to help preserve this unique ecosystem. Tidal Influence has identified 13 habitat types, including several wetland habitats, such as tidal salt marsh, alkali meadows, brackish marsh, willow scrub, and mulefat scrubs. Using various resources, the team has mapped the habitat of 7 special status plant species, including large populations of southern tarplant. The wetlands also provide a habitat for rare animals, such as the Pacific green sea turtle, California least tern, Belding’s savannah sparrow, and the burrowing owl, making it essential to conserve and restore the wetlands.


The Belding's Savannah sparrow, is one of the species that is native to salt marshes, which is facing endangerment due to the gradual disappearance of these wetlands. The destruction and development of approximately 75% of the salt marshes on the west coast into residential or commercial areas have caused a significant decline in the species' population (Avian Conservation and Ecology). Wetland restoration, such as the ongoing efforts at The Los Cerritos Wetlands by organizations like Tidal Influence, is crucial for preserving the remaining habitats of endangered species like the Belding's Savannah sparrow. By restoring and conserving wetlands, we can protect the biodiversity and ecological functioning of our planet, ensuring that future generations can continue to appreciate and benefit from these valuable ecosystems.


How Can You Help?

There are several ways that people can help with wetland restoration efforts:


  • Volunteer: Look for local organizations that are involved in wetland restoration and habitat conservation, such as Tidal Influence, and volunteer your time to help with their restoration efforts. This can involve tasks such as planting native vegetation, removing invasive species, and monitoring wildlife populations.

  • Educate yourself: Learn more about the importance of wetlands and the threats they face. Share this information with others to help raise awareness about the need for wetland conservation.

  • Reduce your environmental impact: Take steps to reduce your own environmental impact, such as conserving water, reducing your energy consumption, and recycling. This can help to reduce the overall demand for resources that can contribute to wetland destruction.

  • Advocate for wetland conservation: Contact your local elected officials and advocate for policies that support wetland conservation and restoration. This can include measures such as preserving wetland areas from development and supporting funding for wetland restoration projects.


In conclusion, Wetlands are a vital ecosystem that provides numerous benefits to both humans and wildlife. They play a crucial role in flood control, carbon sequestration, and water purification, while supporting a diverse range of plant and animal species. The Los Cerritos Wetlands in Southern California is one such ecosystem that is currently undergoing restoration efforts by Tidal Influence and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority. The preservation of these valuable wetlands is crucial for the well-being of our planet and future generations. By volunteering, educating ourselves, reducing our environmental impact, and advocating for wetland conservation, we can all contribute to the restoration and preservation of wetlands and their biodiversity.


Become a Volunteer

I had the opportunity to learn more about the endangered species of the Los Cerritos Wetlandsand participate in the habitat restoration. The experience was enlightening, and it is clear that the wetlands are essential to our planet's health and biodiversity.

You also have the opportunity to volunteer with Tidal Influence and contribute to habitat restoration efforts. Below, you will find information on how to get involved. Additionally, this volunteer opportunity is suitable for families, and you're welcome to bring your children to join in with you.



Habitat Restoration Events

10:30 AM - 12:30 PM on the 1st Saturday of every month

Upcoming Dates: Jan 7th, Feb 4th, Mar 4th, Apr 1st, May 6th, Jun 3rd


Additional Information:

The Aquarium of the Pacific is working together with the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority to help restore a local wetland in Long Beach

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