Wetlands, including wetland forests, are the “filters” of our natural system, combating pollution, removing excess nutrients, and securing fresh drinking water for surrounding and downstream communities. They provide critical protection from dangerous flooding in vulnerable regions. Wetland forests rank among the most important in the nation for carbon sequestration and biodiversity.
The majority of the nation’s wetland forests are located in the Southern United States. These forests span 35 million acres across fourteen states and include bottomland hardwoods, Carolina bays, pocosins, tidal swamps, and many others. One third of currently listed endangered species are dependent on wetlands. Ninety percent of these wetland forests are located on private lands, an excellent opportunity for collaboration with landowners. A majority of wetland forests have been lost in the last 300 years. Wetland forest conservation and restoration must be recognized as an urgent national, regional, and local priority.