The Everglades - Wetlands of North America
The Everglades belong to the most amazing wetlands in the world. Located in southern Florida, they extend from Lake Okeechobee in the north to Florida Bay in the south. The Everglades are an ecosystem made up of swamps, mangrove forests and grasslands that are flooded by many rivers during the rainy season and experience bushfires when it is dry.
The wetlands were created when the water level rose after the glaciers of the last Ice Age melted. Most of the water that covers the Everglades comes from Lake Okeechobee and the rivers surrounding it in the north. While the northern areas contain more fresh water, salt water mixes with the rivers and wetlands in the southern region.
The typical landscape of the Everglades features long prairie grass that grows as high as three meters. It is covered by shallow sections of water.
The Everglades are home to a wide variety of tropical and subtropical animals, including alligators, deer, fish and snake. Plants include cypress trees, palms and thick mangrove trees. Many wading birds breed in the Everglades.
Native Americans lived in the Everglades in the past centuries. When the first Europeans came they started cutting down forests and making the area inhabitable. As a result plants, died out and many animals in the region became extinct.
In the early part of the 20th century engineers started building canals through the Everglades in order to dry up the land. In the past decades over half of the Everglades have been turned into farmland with sugar cane as the most important crop.
About a fifth of the Everglades have been turned into a national park. It was created in 1947 to protect Florida’s plants and animals. Environmental dangers, however, have remained over the years. The water supply of the Everglades is rapidly declining. Big cities around the wetlands are using up more and more water and farming has used up much of the rest. Chemicals used in agriculture damage the fresh water in the region. In the last few years the American government has spent millions of dollars on protecting this ecosystem in southern Florida and repairing the damage that has been done by people.
Typical prarie grass landscape of the Everglades
- agriculture = farming
- breed = to have babies or lay eggs
- century = a hundred years
- contain = have
- create = make, start out
- damage = destroy
- ecosystem = the animals and plants in a certain region and the way they live with each other
- environment = the world around us
- experience = to happen
- feature = show
- flood = to cover with water
- glacier = large mass of ice that moves slowly down a valley
- government = the people who rule a country
- however = but
- including = also
- mangrove = tropical tree that grows in or near the water and grows new roots from its branches
- melt = when ice turns into water
- prairie = wide flat area in the middle of North America
- rapidly = very fast
- repair = to fix
- rise – rose – risen = to go up
- section = area
- shallow = not deep
- surrounding = around something
- swamp = area that is very wet and often covered with water
- variety = selection, kinds
- wadingbirds = birds that have long thin lags and live in or near wet areas
- wetland = area of land that is often covered with water