|Why are the wetlands important in the TCI?|
|Written by DECR|
|Thursday, 03 February 2011 10:00|
Forests play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle and as a consequence, in the health of wetlands.
Forested wetlands include habitats such as mangroves, nipah swamps, freshwater swamp forests, forested peatlands and seasonally flooded forests. These wetlands are important as they deliver significant ecosystem services, are cradles of biological diversity, and support populations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
Wetlands are habitats that fall in the environmental spectrum between land and water. They lie at the interface between terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Wetlands are highly productive communities and provide homes, food and resources for an extensive assortment of species. The high levels of nutrients coupled with the ready availability of water provide the perfect home for many plants and animals.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are made up of over 50 percent wetlands. The biological diversity found within these wetlands is irreplaceable. Here in the TCI we have many variations of wetlands; coastal regions, mangroves, seasonal freshwater ponds and marshes, salinas, pine, palmetto, and buttonwood swamps and salt marshes.
Until recent decades, wetlands were largely considered disposable portions of land and very little thought of conservation and protection was placed on them. However, recently the invaluable services that wetlands provide have been realised. The wetlands of the TCI provide much more than just a habitat for plants and animals — they also act as a barrier for land protection, a natural filtering system, and flood protection.
As the population increased over the years, we have seen many wetland areas being in-filled to accommodate homes, businesses and other infrastructural developments. The fragility of these ecosystems has to be taken into consideration. The loss of wetland areas has adverse implications for both the natural and human environment in the TCI. With development expanding everyday, wetlands are increasingly at risk.
Source: Department of Environment and Coastal Resources
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The fp is publishing a series of articles on the Turks and Caicos Islands Protected Area System to increase public awareness and respect for the beauty and value of this "beautiful by nature" country.
The authors, marine ecologist Marsha Pardee and terrestrial ecologist Kathleen Wood, are long-time TCI residents and respected scientists in their fields.
Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
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Links to environmental documents and laws