Wetland - Functions and Values

Wetland Functions

Wetland functions are science based natural processes that occur in wetlands. Wetland functions vary depending on the type of wetland, the season in the year, the position on the landscape and land uses that affect the hydrologic and ecologic functions.

Source: Minnesota Wetlands Conservation Plan, Version 1.02, 1997, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota

Wetland Values

Wetland values are typically subjective, non-site specific benefits realized by society and individuals through natural wetland functions occurring in wetlands.

The value of a wetland is an estimate of the importance or worth of one or more of its functions to society. Wetlands are considered valuable because they clean the water, recharge water supplies, reduce flood risks, and provide fish and wildlife habitat. In addition, wetlands provide recreational opportunities, aesthetic benefits, sites for research and education, and commercial benefits.

Minnesota Statute requires that public values are determined based on functions of wetlands.

Not all wetlands perform all functions nor do they perform all functions equally well.

Wetland Functions and Values:

Wetland Functions

(Not in Rank Order)

Hydrologic Flux and Storage includes water storage; groundwater recharge and discharge; stream discharge and recharge; and evapotranspiration export.

Biological Productivity includes primary productivity; secondary productivity; carbon storage; and carbon fixation.

Biogeochemical Cycling and Storage includes wetlands as a nutrient source or sink, an area for oxidation and reduction chemical transformations, an area for denitrification, and reservoirs for sediment and organic matter.

Decomposition involves carbon release; mineralization; detritus output for aquatic organisms; and release of chemical compounds.

Community Wildlife Habitat provides habitat for algae, bacteria, fungi, insects, invertebrates, wetland plants, fish, shellfish, amphibians, reptiles, shorebirds, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Wetlands are critical habitat for rare and unique species and enhance the resilience and diversity of plant and animal communities.

Source: Minnesota Wetlands Conservation Plan, Version 1.02, 1997, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota


Wetland Values (Not in Rank Order)

Water Quality includes filtering of pollutants to surface and groundwater, utilization of nutrients that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping of sediments, shoreline protection, and utilization of the wetland as a recharge area for groundwater.

Flood Water and Storm Water Retention includes the potential for flooding in the watershed, the value of property subject to flooding, and the reduction in potential flooding by the wetland.

Public Recreation and Education includes hunting and fishing areas, wildlife viewing areas, and nature areas.

Habitat including fish, wildlife, native plant habitats

Low-flow Augmentation 
 Carbon Sequestration 

Commercial Uses

Wild rice and cranberry growing and harvesting


Other Public Uses

Source:Minnesota Statutes, 103B.3355 Wetland Functions For Determining Public Values.