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Wetland conservation, at the most basic level, is the practice of preserving wetland habitats for indigenous wildlife and vegetation. It encompasses numerous environmental and wildlife protection efforts designed to preserve the delicate ecosystems of various wetland areas. Such areas are typically understood to mean bogs, marshes, swamps, and other areas with soil sufficiently saturated by water to support plant and animal life accustomed to such environments. Protecting wetlands, aside from preserving the natural wetland habitat, has far-reaching implications, especially for surrounding areas and industries.
Numerous local, regional, and international environmental groups and government agencies participate in wetland conservation efforts. Programs and initiatives include monitoring climatic changes; researching the effects of industry on coastal reefs, interior floodplains and other wetlands; treatment of indigenous wildlife for disease; and placing restrictions on water storage or construction near wetland areas. Depending on specific locations, some government agencies and non-profit groups work with local authorities to monitor the effects of dams and other infrastructure projects on surrounding wetlands.
The goal of wetland conservation is to ensure that wildlife and vegetation indigenous to a specific area have the resources available to sustain the ecosystem. It also seeks the ensure that any changes to that ecosystem do not adversely affect surrounding lands and ecosystems. For example, building a hydroelectric dam can block surface water run-off to surrounding wetlands. Without the necessary surface water, these wetlands can dry up, killing off vegetation and displacing wildlife. The loss of wetlands adversely affects an area's fishing, agriculture, and other industries, not to mention the environmental effects for surrounding areas.
Specific wetland conservation efforts vary depending on local geography; the types of soil, vegetation, and wildlife supported; and available support and resources. Certain locations are presented with different problems, such as carbon dioxide emissions or climatic changes, that necessitate different wetland conservation efforts than another area affected by other problems, like overbuilding or industrial waste. Still further efforts may be required for wetland areas dealing with migratory bird diseases or overpopulation of certain plants or pests.
Intervention by mankind to address locality-specific problems is at the heart of any wetland conservation initiative. Animal conservation and protection of endangered animals, habitat conservation, and protection of wetland resources are all important factors in wetland conservation. Which areas require the most focus vary depending on each area's specific issues and needs, but all efforts are designed with the entire wetland ecosystem in mind. Areas that depend on wetlands for resources typically experience the largest focus, whereas areas with little dependence on wetland ecosystems tend to put off conservation efforts until threats are felt elsewhere.