Wetlands are taken to mean areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres (Article 1.1 of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971).

Inundated (waterlogged) lands can be developed under the influence of various factors, as such lands are located in depressions, and rain and other runoffs regularly fill those. Some of inundated areas are located practically at the same level as groundwater and are fed from below. Other types of inundated lands are located near to rivers or other water bodies which always overflow. In coastal zones, those are filled due to occurring flood tides.

Some inundated lands are formed because of minor external effects. So, beavers turn depressions into swamps or sections of woodland into waterlogged areas by constructing dams in streams. People also make lands wet. For example, an organization engaged in improving the condition of wildlife can make certain areas inundated to create habitat for fish and wildlife.

There are many types of swamps, marshes, overflow lands, and other inundated lands. And all of inundated lands have a series of features that distinguish them from other habitats. The majority of ecologists define inundated lands as areas the soil of which becomes waterlogged, at least periodically, or the surface of which is covered with water sustaining the life of plants and animals adapted to living in aquatic environment.

  1. Marine: coastal lagoons; offshore zones the depth of which at low tides does not exceed six meters, together with islands located in shallow water; riparian wet lowlands flooded with seawater at high tides and upsurges (marshes); and beaches, cliffs, and other natural complexes close to seashore.
  2. Estuarial: deltas with river branches, arms, their doabs, overflow lands, estuary shallow areas in the sea (delta fronts).
  3. Lake: natural water bodies differing in size, origin, and other characteristics, located in slight depressions in the ground, permanent or temporary, static or flowing, with water with different salt content (load), including saline, as well as connected with local lakes.
  4. River: rivers, streams, temporary watercourses together with floodplains and other valley complexes.
  5. Swamped: marshes (overmoistened areas with peat layer at least 0.3 m thick) of different types, including lowland bogs (fens), mesotrophic (transitional) and upland, as well as the woodlands, scrubs that surround swamps, and other palces.

In addition, there are artificial wetlands such as ponds made for various economic purposes, reservoirs, channels for irrigation and water supply, fields filled with water.

Why do wetlands attract so much attention? Because their role in natural processes and in the life of the human society is extremely important and diverse. Among critical ecological functions of wetlands are the following:

  • accumulating and storing fresh water;
  • regulating surface and subsurface runoffs;
  • maintaining groundwater level;
  • purifying of water, blocking contaminants;
  • restoring oxygen to the atmosphere;
  • extracting carbon from the atmosphere and collect;
  • stabilizing climatic conditions, particularly rainfall and temperature;
  • controlling erosion, stabilizing the position of water fronts; and
  • serving as a habitat for many types of plants and animals, including rare and economically significant ones.

Classification of wetlands for the purpose of inventory of those

The wetland kingdom

Wetland type

Wetland class

Wetland group

1. Sea

1. Open shallow marine areas

1. Littoral

1. Stony

2. Sandy

2. Sublittoral

1. Stony

2. Sandy

2. Bays and straits

1. Exposed during low tides (watten, nyashi)

1. Sandy

2. Silty

3. Silty with sandy ridges

2. Deep-water bays

3. Shallow-water bays

1. With underwater angiosperms and charophytes meadows

2. With underwater meadows composed of other algae

3. Without mature vegetation (bare bottom)

4. Desalinated-water bays

1. With underwater meadows of angiosperms and charophytes

2. With underwater meadows composed of other algae

3. With bushes of emergent vegetation

5. With bare bottom

5. Lagoons

1. Salty

2. Desalinated

3. River mouths

1. Estuaries

2. Deltas

4. Sea coasts

1. Small islands

1. Rock-ribbed

2. Non-rock-ribbed

2. Costs of continents and mainlands

1. Meadow

2. Sandy

3. Pebble beaches

4. Rocky

5. Marshes

2. Valley

5. Rivers and their valleys

1. Lowland type

1. With the developed system of dead channels and channels, of meadow boggy type

2. The same, of forest type

3. With the undeveloped system of dead channels and channels, of meadow boggy type

4. The same, of forest type

5. Lake and reservoir deltas

2. Mountain type

3. Streams

1. Meadow

2. Forest

3. Tundra

6. Reservoirs

1. Lowland type with stable level

2. Plain type, with stable level

1. Regular seasonal fluctuations of level

2. Multiple random fluctuations of level

3. Mountain type

3. Watershed and drainless areas

7. Lake groups

1. Stable

1. Eutrophic

2. Mesotrophic

3. Oligotrophic

4. Complex

2. Cryogenic

1. Tundra

2. Taiga and meadow

3. Of arid areas, unstable

1. Freshwater

2. Saline

3. Complex

8. Particular lakes

1. Stable

1. Saline

2. Brackish

3. Freshwater eutrophic type

4. Oligotrophic

5. Dystrophic

2. With variable water level

1. Saline

2. Brackish

3. Freshwater

4. Variable salinity è

9. Swamps

1. Lowland and transitional moor

1. Having many lakes

2. Having few or no lakes

2. Upland moor

1. Having many lakes

2. Having few or no lakes

10. Intermittent water bodies

1. Tundra

2. Forest

3. Meadow

4. Steppe

5. Desert

11. Artificial reservoirs

1. Ponds

1. Fish rearing

2. Domestic

3. Mill and beaver

4. Flooded opencast mines

2. Irrigation systems

1. Rice fields

2. Drainage systems

3. Water bodies for discharge

4. Filtration water bodies

* - Classification by Yu.A. Isakov (1968), improved by V.G. Krivchenko and V.G. Vinogradov (1996)

Wetlands are significant for people to a considerable extent because of their ecological role. The human being depends to a large extent on the condition of those, because they:

  • serve as the main source of drinking and pure water;
  • maintaining the groundwater table, mainly determine the productivity of agricultural lands;
  • serve as the basis for some types of animal husbandry (poultry farming, fur farming, haymaking, valuable additional fertilizing – sapropel);
  • provide farms/households with fuel, construction materials, fertilizers (wood, reed, turf);
  • function as raw materials sources (fishing, hunting, berrying);
  • provide great opportunities for tourism, use of recreational and balneological purposes;
  • serve as the necessary environment for the livelihood of the indigenous peoples that preserve traditional way of housekeeping.

Source: Wikipedia

Selected bibliography

Agreements at the Global and Regional Levels

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar, 1971) 

Monographs and brochures

Creating Wetlands within Reservoirs (2013) 

Destination Wetlands. Supporting sustainable tourism (2012) 

Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Wetlands and Water Synthesis (2005) 

Griffin P. - The Ramsar Convention: A new window for environmental diplomacy? (2012) 

Matthews G.V.T. - The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: its History and Development (1993) 

Ospanov M.O., Stamkulova K.Zh. (Eds.) - Biodiversity of wetlands in the Syrdarya river delta front (2012) 

The Ramsar Convention Handbooks for the wise use of wetlands (2010)

Handbook 1. Wise use of wetlands. Concepts and approaches for the wise use of wetlands 

Handbook 2. National Wetland Policies. Developing and implementing National Wetland Policies 

Handbook 3. Laws and institutions. Reviewing laws and institutions to promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands 

Handbook 4. Avian influenza and wetlands. Guidance on control of and responses to highly pathogenic avian influenza 

Handbook 5. Partnerships. Key partnerships for implementation of the Ramsar Convention 

Handbook 6. Wetland CEPA. The Convention’s Programme on communication, education, participation, and public awareness (CEPA) 2009-2015 

Handbook 7. Participatory skills. Establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands 

Handbook 8. Water-related guidance. An Integrated Framework for the Convention’s water-related guidance 

Handbook 9. River basin management. Integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management 

Handbook 10. Water allocation and management. Guidelines for the allocation and management of water for maintaining the ecological functions of wetlands 

Handbook 11. Managing groundwater. Managing groundwater to maintain wetland ecological character 

Handbook 12. Coastal management. Wetland issues in Integrated Coastal Zone Management 

Handbook 13. Inventory, assessment, and monitoring. An Integrated Framework for wetland inventory, assessment, and monitoring 

Handbook 14. Data and information needs. A Framework for Ramsar data and information needs 

Handbook 15. Wetland inventory. A Ramsar framework for wetland inventory and ecological character description 

Handbook 16. Impact assessment. Guidelines on biodiversity-inclusive environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment 

Handbook 17. Designating Ramsar Sites. Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance 

Handbook 18. Managing wetlands. Frameworks for managing Ramsar Sites and other wetlands 

Handbook 19. Addressing change in wetland ecological character. Addressing change in the ecological character of Ramsar Sites and other wetlands 

Handbook 20. International cooperation. Guidelines and other support for international cooperation under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 

Handbook 21. The Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan 2009-2015. Goals, strategies, and expectations for the Ramsar Convention’s implementation for the period 2009 to 2015 

The Handbook for management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems in river and lake basins (INBO, 2015) 

Update of the information on the status of the wetlands in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan by collection and dissemination of good practices for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands by local communities / E.A. Rustamov (ed.) (2018) 


Tesch N., Thevs N. - Wetland Distribution Trends in Central Asia (2020)