Functions of Wetlands in Sweden : a literature review

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi

Abstract: The lack of cultural and economic recognition of the significance of wetlands arguably led to theirdevastating and rapid loss compared to other ecosystems. To reverse this trend and establish a reasonablevaluation of wetlands, the foundations of socio-ecological concepts were laid in late 20th century thatsuggested the acknowledgement of the functions, values, and services of ecosystems. Subsequently, inthe 21st century the scientific interest in wetland functionality is driven beyond mere conservationalefforts and includes the appropriation of their values for sustainable development, and the utilization oftheir functions as nature-based solutions to humanity’s growing environmental problems. In light of thistrend, this literature review outlines the most critical functions of Swedish wetlands and places them intheir contexts of significance. A meta-analysis of the scientific literature on Swedish wetlandswas conducted with the assessment of wetland functions, wetland types, and the drivers that motivatedeach study. To identify the most critical functions and their contexts, patterns and trends wereinvestigated among these categories. Results show that the most recognised functions of Swedishwetlands are their nutrient-pollutant retention, ecosystem maintenance, and carbon sink functions.Their connections to distinct drivers suggest that their values mainly lie in their potential tomitigate negative impacts of anthropogenic activities, such as eutrophication and global warming,and to support local and regional biodiversity. Synergies among these functions are alsodiscussed, as exemplified by dual-purpose constructed wetlands. Moreover, understudiedhydrological functions are thought to reflect their undervaluation and indicate possible risksattached to associated knowledge gaps. By summarising and contextualising the most importantfunctions, this literature review sheds light on the contemporary understanding and valuation ofwetland functions in Sweden. It is suggested that these novel perceptions effectively drive wetlandconstruction and restoration, the ever-more popular strategies to mitigate climate- and industryrelated risks. Consequently, the recognition, interpretation, and application of wetland functionswill all contribute to the future landscape composition of Sweden.

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