Wetland classification

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Classification of wetlands has been a problematical task, with the commonly accepted definition of what constitutes a wetland being among the major difficulties. A number of national wetland classifications exist. In the 1970s, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance introduced a first attempt to establish an internationally acceptable wetland classification scheme.[1]

Ramsar classification[edit]

The Ramsar classification of wetland types is intended as a means for fast identification of the main types of wetlands for the purposes of the Convention.[2]

The wetlands are classified into three major classes:

  • Marine/coastal wetlands
  • Inland wetlands
  • Human-made wetlands

These are further subdivided by the type of water: fresh / saline / brackish / alkaline; and may be further classified by the substrate type of other characteristics.

National systems of classification[edit]


Wetlands in Australia that considered to be of national importance are so classified by criteria published in association with the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA).[3]

United States[edit]

Wetlands of the United States are classified according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory (NWI).[4]

See also[edit]