Hamilton area are fortunate to have many local wetlands. Wetlands
were thought to be dirty places and had a reputation for being dangerous.
Movies like "The Swamp Thing" came from the imagination
of people who were raised in a time when wetlands were considered
of little value or even frightening. We now know that they are important
habitats that provide homes for many endangered species and that they
help to control floods and filter some pollutants. It is hard to imagine
thinking of them as undesirable today, which is good because 33% of
Ontario's and 14% of Canada's land mass is covered by wetlands. .
Unfortunately, up to 90% of southern Ontario's wetlands have been
lost to urbanization and agriculture.
Wetlands are often thought of as areas where there is water with many
plants and usually amphibians and birds. But what are wetlands exactly?
There are many definitions of wetlands. The word 'wet-land' tells
us that they are lands that are wet. These ecosystems fall somewhere
between terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) categories. They are
often found in similar surroundings as lakes and may occur around
lake margins. They are not lakes or ponds because they are more shallow
and characterized by the presence of vegetation rather than open water.
The definition often used by Canadian scientists is:
wetland is land that is saturated with water long enough to promote
wetland or aquatic processes as indicated by poorly drained soils,
hydrophytic vegetation and various kinds of biological activity
which are adapted to a wet environment."(Wetlands of Canada,
Tarnocai et al., 1988)
term 'saturated' means waterlogged (full of water). Hydrophytic
means 'water-adapted' or 'water-loving', 'hydrophilic' means the
same thing. Wetlands then, are indeed lands that are wet and whose
plant and animal communities are adapted to living on waterlogged