Different types of wetland

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Where the soil is wet and squishy
s reeds tall Phragmite sedges

n Koopman Photo Vaugha


A wetland is a place between dry and wet land where the soil is waterlogged for all, or part, of the year. The water may be flowing or standing, and fresh, brackish or salt. Waterlogged soil is usually dark and has little or no air (oxygen) present –– it is said to be anoxic. Many wetlands are rich in nutrients and have a high diversity of land and water animals and fast-growing plants. Wetlands can be deep or shallow, tiny pools or huge swamps like Nylsvley (Limpopo Province) in the rainy season. Some mountain wetlands are just patches of squishy ground called sponges or seeps. These are places where rainwater collects and is slowly released as the start of a river.

etland view. A common w

Different types of wetland
Each kind of wetland has special features and different plants and animals that live in it. Read about the wetlands below and fill in the missing names on the drawing. Answers on page 31.

1. s.................

2. s................. dam


4. r................. 3. a............... wetland 5. vlei or p..............
sewerage works


reedbed or vlei 6. l................ 7. e.................. 8. mangrove s...................... salt-marsh

Rivers: Carry rainwater from the mountains to the sea. Estuaries: Occur where rivers meet the sea. They are important feeding and breeding places for birds and fish. Peatlands: Have spongy, waterlogged soil with moss or, in southern Africa, reeds, grasses and sedges growing in them. The plants eventually decay to form peat. Peat is used in nurseries and for growing mushrooms. It can also be burnt as fuel. Floodplains: Low-lying areas where the rivers flood across the land after heavy rain. Lakes: Waterbodies where the middle part is too deep for rooted plants to grow. Marshes: Spongy waterlogged soil with low-growing plants like reeds and sedges. Many estuaries have saltmarshes. Ponds: Shallow water with plants growing right across – some underwater. Sponges: Soft, boggy land high in the mountains – the source of rivers. Springs: Places where water bubbles out of rocks or sand – often the start of a river. Swamps: Places where trees grow with their roots covered in fresh- or seawater, e.g. mangrove swamps. Vleis: A South African term – Cape people call any pond or lake a vlei, but upcountry it means a river reed-bed. Artificial wetlands: Storage dams and sewerage ponds built especially for cleaning wastewater.


EnviroKids Vol. 29(1)

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Description: Different types of wetland