Wetlands are arguably one of the most critical components in maintaining the health of ecosystems for fish, wildlife and humans, but they are the least understood and protected. Wetlands provide a number of important ecological functions ranging from water purifiers and fish nurseries to carbon sinks and wildlife breeding grounds. Most wildlife in the province use wetland habitat at some point in their life cycle, and many red- and blue-listed species are wetland-dependent.
Hydrologic characteristics of the region have resulted in well-distributed water areas with a rich array of wetlands including the Columbia Wetlands near the headwaters of the Columbia River, the Kootenay River flood plains, and other smaller wetlands.
A significant proportion of the low elevation wetlands in the region were lost due to water impoundment behind dams. Other wetlands were drained or filled to create solid land for agriculture, settlement, and industry.
The Biodiversity Atlas provides important map-based information about wetlands across the Basin. This information will help resource managers and others make informed decisions and protect wetlands.
Animal species supported
In the Columbia Basin region there are 41 species of mammals, 108 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians and 4 species of reptiles that are dependent on wetlands for their survival. The list of these animals is too long to provide here but includes the: northern leopard frog, California myotis, bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, caribou and dusky shrew.
Learn more about wetlands