Wetlands: The livers of the earth

Wetlands in the Chilean south

Chile has about 4.5 million hectares of wetlands. (I don’t know if you’re thinking the same thing as me: that’s a lot!)

To better understand this topic, these is the definition that I’ve found for wetland:

Any normal flat area where the surface of the soil is covered with water permanently or seasonally, is a wetland”. These are natural refuges for wildlife and wild flora, sources of fresh water, recharge for aquifers and true filters for sediments and pollutants.”

The importance of wetlands lies in the fact that they function as water filters, since they trap pollutants and neutralize harmful bacteria. There are also significant elements of wetlands that help to control floods thanks to their capacity to absorb water, and these allow  life of valuable species present in food chains.

I think I had not really analyzed how important wetlands are for the planet. This description of the wetlands called my attention: “they are the livers of the earth“, that means, living without wetlands, it would be a disaster, our planet wouldn’t be able to live, and unfortunately if we continue at this pace, we’ll go straight to the destruction and disappearance of wetlands.

I do not know if you had the opportunity to be in a wetland. I´ve been many times, and it is one of the best feelings ever. It gives me so much peace. A feeling I would recommend everyone to sense.

I think I would have to inevitably mention my dad again (… I’m telling you, everything that has to do with taking care of this planet, the environment and everything related to nature, I got it from him, because it was our way of living. I already mentioned, he is a great ornithologist and he specializes in shorebirds and wetland birds). I have this funny memory that always makes me laugh: one day my dad, a friend and I spent a whole day birdwatching in a wetland. Our friend and I were eaten alive by mosquitoes, but my dad! Nothing happened to him … he is already part of nature, even mosquitoes love him. At this point of my life, I have the certainty he is a “Dr. Dolittle”, he talks to animals, and they respond.

Birds living in wetlands are incredible: so many species, so many colors. Every time I went to a wetland birdwatching with my dad, it felt like Easter: looking for a bird was like looking for chocolate eggs! Especially when we were looking for one of the most beautiful birds in Chile, the “seven colors”, my heart would jump when we found it. (Moments of my childhood I will never forget!)

The good news about wetlands in Chile: The president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, continues with actions supporting nature and protection of the planet.  At the moment, wetlands in Chile are not protected. That is why the government want to work on a “National Plan for the Protection of Wetlands”, (for his 4 years of mandate). The first stage of this plan is for protecting 40 wetlands and in a second stage it will include 18 more.

Today, there are no regulations about building on wetlands. Anyone can build on them, destroying the ecosystem. This plan would mean that real state future buildings would have to be analyzed by the government. Only those that wouldn’t afect/destroy the wetland or the ecosystem will be given the “green light” to build (I hope this would be the case, since money is often the key to have the right to build and not the protection of nature) but I do not want to lose hope nor the illusion of believing that buildings that threat “these livers of the planet” won’t be able to build. 

This time, my challenge for you is that you take the time to go and visit a wetland, to feel the peace that nature gives through the wetlands. Breathe, feel nature embracing you, seek your joy. Advice: beware of mosquitoes!

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