"Steve, do wetlands have an economic value?"

Absolutely...and one that is greatly underestimated! The real estate value of wetlands can be substantial, especially in regions where wetland properties are bought and leased by waterfowl hunting enthusiasts. However, the environmental services wetlands provide have far greater economic value. Here are some examples of that value:  

  • By storing water, wetlands prevent millions of dollars in property damage from flooding and erosion.
  • Wetlands also remove nutrients and contaminants, thereby reducing costs associated with water pollution.
  • Wetlands recharge groundwater aquifers used for domestic water supplies and irrigation. An ample groundwater supply increases value and profitability of the land above.  
  • Birds that depend on wetland habitat support entire industries associated with bird watching and migratory game bird hunting.
  • Perhaps the most unrecognized value is carbon sequestration. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, which has enormous potential costs. Wetland plants take carbon in from the atmosphere as they grow. When the plants die, that carbon can be stored in wetland soils for up to hundreds of years, helping to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
To fully appreciate the economic value of wetlands we must consider the costs associated with losing these environmental services when wetlands are drained or filled.

Steve Tessmann
Staff Biologist

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