Innovations paving the way for wetland restoration
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on the 2nd of February to raise awareness about wetlands and the important role they play in our planet’s ecosystem. We are losing wetlands three times faster than forests, nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, with 35% of the world’s wetlands disappearing in the last 50 years. Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more. Innovators worldwide are now finding ways to restore and protect key areas and reverse their rapid loss.
A UMD researcher, Dr Martin Rabenhorst of the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, has invented a new method for measuring the quality of wetland soils which is easier to use, more accurate, and more environmentally friendly. The new method uses reusable plastic tubes to insert oxide-coated plastic films into the ground for analysis, and 2D images can then be analysed with the latest image processing and computing software.
This new method helps identify essential wetland ecosystems and ensure long-term protection while producing much less waste than previous methods and has the potential to be widely used as the primary technique for wetland soil assessment. Click here to view the patent in PatBase.
When water flow is sufficiently slow in marshes, it breaks down toxic compounds through chemical and biological processes. Wetlands function as toxin and pathogen filters before agricultural and industrial runoffs reach freshwaters. However, with vast amounts of effluent and sewage discharges, wetlands lose the ability to purify water, directly affecting the water quality in rivers and oceans, posing a threat to aquatic and human life.
US-based startup RedTail LiDAR Systems develops LiDAR-based mapping using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for natural resources management, construction, and agriculture. The startup’s lightweight RTL-450 LiDAR system generates high-resolution data point clouds to measure hydrology change, vegetation, and land volume of wetlands, allowing governments and commercial authorities to assess wetland health and alterations that affect it. Click here to view in PatBase.
Preserving wetlands is essential to maintain a healthy habitat for various animal species. However, wetlands are susceptible to rising temperatures driven by climate change and the increased levels of water pollution further affect the functionality of marshlands.
Norwegian startup Standard Bio uses pyrolysis to develop biochar from bio-waste streams in agriculture and animal husbandry. The startup adopts a carbon-negative approach to upcycle feedstock, which purifies soils, water, and air and improve the functionality of constructed wetlands, further improving carbon sequestration and water treatment.
Wetlands are important ecosystems that help to maintain the health of our rivers and oceans, prevent floods, and store decades worth of carbon, making their restoration and protection critical in the fight against climate change. While all of these innovations play a major role in protecting wetlands and advancing a circular economy, they only represent the tip of the iceberg.
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