Arctic Environments/Inland Waters Wetlands
About 14% of Canada's surface area – nearly 1.3 million km2 – is wetlands. In fact, almost one-quarter of all the wetlands on the planet are found in Canada. As their name suggests, wetlands are areas that are waterlogged for all or much of the year. Water may just cover the surface, or it may be as deep as 2 m. As such, wetlands include marshes, bogs, ponds, and fens, but not rivers or lakes. In many wetland habitats, organic materials accumulate because of slowed decomposition, forming a layer of peat. Wetlands are found throughout the North, but they are most common in the Low Arctic and least abundant in the High Arctic. Overall, wetlands are less common in the Arctic than in the remainder of Canada, as they cover just 9% of the land area. However, the importance of northern wetlands is immense, because their productivity is higher than surrounding areas. In a very real sense, these are the oases of the Arctic.