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Why should we protect salt marshes?

Human beings have always been dependent on nature and the services it provides. Nature provides us enough to live and share among our community. However, we, human beings, reach so far above our limit that our greed disrupts the ecological balance that results in problems such as climate change and global warming. The marine environment is affected the worst, suffocated by plastic disposal and water pollution. This is where salt marshes come to the rescue. A salt marsh, also known as a coastal marsh or a tidal marsh, is the transitional habitat between the ocean and the land. It is an estuary where fresh and saltwater mix.
Salt marshes are the lap for a variety of marine life consisting of 75 percent of fishery species, including many commercial fishers. Buffering between the land and the sea, they filter nutrients, cease soil erosion, storm surge, and flood, especially in the coastal areas. Jennifer Bowen, an associate professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and a part of the Urban Coastal Sustainability Initiative in the College of Science at Northeastern University, has conducted a lot of research on how urbanisation affects salt marshes and the need to protect them. They are important in sequestering carbon at high rates in our atmosphere even more than tropical rainforests as they build a huge amount of biomass. They are equally effective in removing nitrogen out of oceans.
Salt marshes occupy a major part in the coastal real estate sharing the shoreline with nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, that is, roughly 600 million people. Therefore, salt marshes are hugely affected by overfishing, urban development, excessive fertilisers drained from agricultural practices, sewage, and waste from industries. Bowen and her team believe that conserving salt marshes will significantly reduce climate change as they provide the scope for biodiversity and the microbes present in it permit the functioning of many ecosystem services. Hence, conserving salt marshes should be recognised as an important part of saving this planet from global warming and climate change.
Dibyasha Das