From the Point of View of the Swamps: Hear Our Plea
By Avery Berg (Sea Potential Intern, 10th Grade)
It is truly not easy being a swamp, and it never has been. We are always judged by our appearances, and frankly, we are not beautiful. Scenic maybe, but hardly in the slightest. Have you ever been to a swamp for a wedding? Have you bathed in our dusty waters on a hot day to cool down? The word “swamp” even sounds dejecting.
Before the 1970s, our rep was really down in the gutter. We were the “sinister” and “forbidding” ponds of the mossy woods. Certainly “infectious” mosquitoes nested near us, making us an impending disease trap. A wasteland doesn’t do any good. We were a bad omen, with our murky waters foreshadowing a murky future. Our sheer presence ran shivers down their spines. In the U.S. at the time, draining swamps became an accepted practice. This was a western perspective that became mainstream through colonization. An astounding amount of wetlands were drained, totalling up to almost half of us being wiped out nationally. We lost a lot of friends in that tragic plague. Draining us, they dwelled on the benefits of more agricultural land and real estate, but they had no idea there would be any deficits to our diminishing. We have, since before human existence, been a pillar to the upkeep of our society. While ages may have phased how we are perceived, our souls are still content in bettering the world. We are still fighting for those who do not fight for us. Let us show you the way into our invisible majesty.
First off, we are a major protection agency against flooding. We collect a lot of excess rainwater and floodwater, and on coastlines we can easily combat some waves. Much water that would otherwise reach people and result in disastrous consequences is picked up by us, and subsequently held in a safe place. Because we give trees a nice drink during their grueling years of standing in place, they aggregate near our stomping grounds and help to mitigate the impact of wind and wet sea. And the “feet” of these trees—extensive roots which they keep hidden because they are ashamed of their magnitude (it’s slightly embarrassing to have big feet)—hold surrounding land in place as well. We protect humans and non-humans alike by producing an area that relieves pressure onset by the wind and sea. We protect your homes and truly, your lives. To continue on with some more of our notable community service work, we also foster an area that actually has the capacity to purify water.
While it might seem like we have the grubbiest and dirtiest water around, the water that flows out of us is actually completely purified. Because we combat so much floodwater, we are constantly getting waste-filled water dumps. This waste might include fertilizers from agricultural usage, or even sewage. And though we appear sunken and still, we are actually hard at work using our extensive plant matter and soil to absorb these pollutants. Even if waste is not absorbed, it will become sediment buried in our walls or floor, so that the totality of the water purifies. We make the water more safe for those that come into contact with it after us. Do you hear us? Are you picking up what we are putting down? Do you understand? We are awesome, and we are making a difference. We are here, and we are here to stay. And what’s more? We are also major havens for a number of species.
We show up for trees, people, and we show up for animals too. We give habitats to birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and even mammals, like beavers. Additionally, we are heavily leafy, and as well as giving “waterside suites” to these plants, a benefit of their stay is that many of them have medicinal value. For example, the mangrove tree, which grows at a number of our locations, has wound-healing, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. There are so many other plants around us that are garnered for usage as well, like fuelwood, salt, and dyes. We are bustling with opportunities and life.
Sadly, as expansion continues to increase, with buildings being erected continuously and forested land like ours’ destroyed, we dwindle. We know life is complicated. We are all trying to make space for growth. We know that beauty, in some way, is in the eye of the beholder. But we also know that we are beautiful, and no one can take that away. We contribute in ways known and undiscovered. We serve this world proud. We know our words will seep through many like light passing through a window, untouched. But we pray on the stars we see at night, high above us and framed by the tops of trees, that people will recognize inner beauty when they see it, and maybe not all hope is lost.
Sources:What Is The Importance Of Swamps? - WorldAtlas
swamp | National Geographic Society
Why are Wetlands Important? - Wetlands (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)