Freshwater and wet places

Freshwater and wet places

John Abbot

Why are wetlands important?

Water and wildlife go together and many of our best areas for wildlife are freshwater wetlands. Huge flocks of birds migrate to the UK’s wetlands in autumn and winter!

Sedge warbler

Sedge warbler by Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Wetlands have rich soil, great for growing crops in. As a result sadly many wetlands have been drained to create land for farming. This is a problem as wetlands are very important.

  • Wetlands store water and therefore help prevent flooding and droughts
  • Peatlands, a type of wetland, can store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This slows climate change
  • Reedbeds naturally clean up polluted water



Lapwing flock (Vanellus vanellus) and a few Dunlin (Chalidris alpina) in flight over hoar frosted Bullrushes (Typha latifolia) and coming in to land on flooded, partly frozen marshland on a foggy winter day. Greylake RSPB reserve, Somerset Levels, UK, January. - Nick Upton/2020VISION/

Did you know?

Wetlands range from small ponds and tiny streams to long rivers like the Severn and huge wetlands like the Norfolk Broads.

Wildlife to look out for!


Freshwater wetlands are an incredible habitat for birds. If you're a bird-watcher, this is the place to go! Some of the birds you can expect to see in this habitat are mallards, mute swans, tufted ducks, shovelers, kingfishers, moorhens, coots and much more!!

Download the wetland bird spotter sheet Find out more about herons and egrets


Where there's water, there's life! Keep an eye out for otters, water voles, water shrews, Chinese water deer and brown rats.

Download the wetland wildlife spotter sheet Find out about otters


Water-rich habitats have a beautiful, rich variety of plants, including common reed, bulrush, sedges, rushes, yellow iris, white water lily, pondweeds, water crowfoot, hornwort, water milfoil, duckweeds, angelica.

Download the peatland spotter sheet Find out more about weird plants


So many species of fish are found in freshwater, as you can imagine! They include brown trout, eel, stickleback, minnow, pike, perch and many more.

Download the fish spotter sheet 

Other habitats