Many industries, including the fishing industry, derive benefits or produce products dependent on wetlands. Part of this economic value lies in the variety of commercial products they provide, such as food and energy sources. Rice can be grown in a wetland during part of the year, and the same area can serve as a wildlife habitat for the rest of the year. Some wetland plant species, such as wild rice and various reeds, can be harvested for - or used to - produce specialty foods, medicines, cosmetics and decorative items. In many coastal and river delta wetlands, haying of wetland vegetation is important to livestock producers. In Europe, reed-growing for building materials is undergoing a revival in some countries as people realize the full potential of reeds as a roofing material. Aesthetically pleasing, thatched roofs are superior insulators to conventional tile roofs, and they have a life span of 25-40 years.
Wetlands also provide employment opportunities, including such positions as surveyor or park ranger. The production of raw materials from wetlands provides jobs to those employed in the commercial fishing, specialty food and cosmetic industries. These are billion dollar industries that depend on our wetlands to flourish.
In addition to the many ways wetlands provide economic benefits, they offer numerous less tangible benefits as well. These include providing aesthetic value to residential communities, reducing stream-bank erosion and providing educational opportunities as an ideal "outdoor classroom." By nearly any measure used, it pays to save wetlands.
"There must be a reason why some people can afford to live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use."