Special issue: wetlands

insect-eating pitcher plants in an Irish bog

Marshes, mangroves, swamps, and bogs. What do these places have in common? They’re all wetlands.

Why do we depend on wetlands? This issue of Explorer magazine is going to tell you. First, let’s learn some basics.

What is a wetland? It’s land that is covered by water at least part of the year. Wetlands are neither totally dry land nor totally underwater. The water can be saltwater, freshwater, or both.

The sun is a fiery ball of gases.



Wetlands are on every continent except Antarctica. Some are flooded woodlands. Others, watery grasslands. Still others have spongy mosses. Yet, they are all ecosystems, and each is vital to Earth.

Wetlands filter water. They prevent floods. They are home to wildlife. They soak up pollutants before they reach other waterways.

a small marsh village in the Philippines

a mangrove forest in Brazil

But wetlands are under threat. People want wetlands for farming and homes. Climate change is interfering, too, bringing floods and droughts.

In this issue, our National Geographic Explorers will tell you about the power of wetlands. We’ll also look at the challenges of protecting them.

Brenna Maloneymanaging editor, Explorer