Pierre5018 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published on Mongabay


Highlights:

  • The wetland forests of the Southern United States are a valuable, yet vulnerable, national treasure. Their tangled branches, ancient butted roots, and swampy mystique conceal rare and beautiful wildlife and are deeply ingrained in the cultural heritage of the region.
  • Wetland forests provide vital ecosystem services for people living in the U.S. South. These benefits include protecting communities from the worst impacts of hurricanes and flooding, supporting a vibrant recreation economy, improving property values, providing opportunities for ecotourism, filtering water, treating waste, supporting pollinators, growing food and forest products, and even cooling the worst of the South’s sticky hot summers.
  • Just a few hundred years ago, the swamps of the South were drastically different. They stretched over the landscape where tree plantations, farms, and cities have now replaced them. The forested wetlands of the Southern US and the myriad benefits they provide are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the region, which is why we should work to protect them.

“Stretching from the historic Chesapeake Bay, down along the Atlantic coastline, across the Gulf of Mexico, into the mysterious bayou swamps of Louisiana, then into eastern Texas and up the Mississippi, the wetland forests of the Southern United States are a valuable, yet vulnerable, national treasure. Their tangled branches, ancient butted roots, and swampy mystique conceal rare and beautiful wildlife and are deeply ingrained in the cultural heritage of the region. Wetland forests are only a fraction of what they were in pre-colonial times, yet they still provide essential, life-giving support to communities that have sprung up around them.

Wetland forests provide vital ecosystem services for people living in the U.S. South. These benefits include protecting communities from the worst impacts of hurricanes and flooding, supporting a vibrant recreation economy, improving property values, providing opportunities for ecotourism, filtering water, treating waste, supporting pollinators, growing food and forest products, and even cooling the worst of the South’s sticky hot summers. All told, according to a report by Dogwood Alliance(written by Dr. Sam Davis, one of the authors of this article), Southern wetland forests ecosystem services are worth more than $500 billion.

…Perhaps most impressive is the background work that our Southern wetland forests do to make sure that surrounding communities have clean, cool air to breathe, and clean, fresh water to drink. A tree-shaded house can lower cooling bills by up to 25 percent — imagine what a tree-shaded region saves. As regions become more and more forested, they become cooler. Nowhere is that more necessary than in the U.S. South, which is expected to bear some of the worst burdens of climate change…”

Read on at: Mongabay.