In the Gallery: Wetlands (photos by Kevin Jones)

Wetland is the modern, polite scientific term for what has been known, usually derogatorily, in the past as “swamp.” Other terms that have been applied to such earthly water features are bog, marsh, and slough, to name a few. These terms historically are somewhat less derogatory than “swamp” although these areas were always the bane of developers because it takes so much money to turn them into parking lots.

The truth is, wetlands left in peace, are more of a boon to human and animal kind than any number of parking lots. They provide nurture, sanctuary, and sustenance to numerous creatures upon which our own lives depend directly or indirectly.

Wetlands purify water and serve as aquifer recharge areas; that is, as areas where water collects and filters down to aquifers deep underground. Coastal wetlands protect coasts from erosion and serve as breeding grounds for much aquatic life. They also sequester CO2, although, incidentally, they may be a source of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, when polluted with nutrients such as fertilizer runoff from cultivated fields or livestock waste.

The collection of photos now hanging in Mindport’s gallery was recorded from the margins of a local wetland about a mile from where I live. Possibly this sampling will serve to dignify a feature of the landscape which should be preserved not only because it’s essential to the wild ecology that sustains our lives, but for its own sake. A culture that focuses solely on its own needs without respecting itself as a participant in the natural world is doomed not only to destroy nature but itself as well.

-Kevin Jones