Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Restoring Wetlands Is More Critical Than Ever

This is a healthy marsh in the Milford Neck Conservation Area on Delaware Bay. Marshes need the meandering creeks and ponds seen here, and the hummocks (the dark gray areas) are important resting and roosting areas for migratory birds. (Credit: Delaware Wild Lands) Click to enlarge.
Along the Delaware River estuary, efforts are underway to restore wetlands lost due to centuries of human activity.  With sea levels rising, coastal communities there and and elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe are realizing the value of wetlands as important buffers against flooding and tidal surges.

Yet despite government, NGO, and regulatory efforts, wetland losses continue unabated.  In the U.S., for instance, even with a “no net loss” policy in place, between 1998 and 2009 coastal wetland losses increased.  Scientists have discovered that salt marshes and mangroves store far more carbon than equal areas of tropical forest. from 60,000 to 80,000 acres per year.  In the Delaware Bay, where Danielle Kreeger, science director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, was overseeing the construction of this “living shoreline,” tidal wetlands are being lost at the rate of an acre a day, this in the East Coast's second-largest estuary, where 126,000 of its 400,000 acres of wetlands are considered by the Ramsar Convention to be of international importance.

Why Restoring Wetlands Is More Critical Than Ever

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