By Amanda Porter, Muskoka Conservancy
What is Muskoka if not the lakes, forests, rocks, and… you guessed it, wetlands! When you close your eyes and think about Muskoka, your mind may first go to hiking through the forests, or swimming in the lakes, or perhaps the picturesque walls and cliffs of granite rock. Wetlands, the unsung heroes of Muskoka, may be an afterthought, but that’s okay, because this article will take you on a journey through the world of wetlands and why they are so important.
First off, what is a wetland? To put it simply, wetlands are wet lands, they are the bridge between the water and the land, they have hydric soils and are dominated by aquatic vegetation. Wetlands can be characterized into four different types: marshes, swamps, fens, and bogs. Each type has conditions that make them unique, but they all share the foundation of wet land, and the common characteristic of being vitally important to life on Earth.
Wetlands provide valuable social, cultural, economic, and of course, ecological benefits. Wetlands absorb and store large amounts of carbon in their plants, and they mitigate the effects of flooding by slowing, absorbing, and storing excess water. The water of Muskoka’s lakes is filtered and purified of pollutants as it passes through wetlands. Many species at risk birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants find habitat in wetlands, and these areas also provide a place for humans to enjoy through recreation, learning, and nature enjoyment. The marshes, swamps, fens, and bogs of Muskoka protect the Watershed and all of its inhabitants, plants, animals, and people alike.
Unfortunately, many wetlands across Ontario are being filled in for development, and all of those benefits are being lost and reversed. In her 2022 paper, Elissa Penfound states, “following the establishment of European settlers, wetlands in southern Ontario have experienced an estimated loss of more than 68 per cent due to development, agriculture, and other anthropogenic factors.” As the world faces many imminent environmental threats, it is important that we all do what we can to preserve the remaining nature that is left, to ensure that it is still around for many future generations to enjoy. Muskoka Conservancy is proud to currently be protecting 3,700 acres of Muskoka’s natural lands, including 675 acres of charismatic wetlands. It is our mission to continue to conserve Muskoka’s natural spaces for our own and future generations.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!