Looking at wetland restoration through the lens of resilience
A wetland restoration project at Hail Cove in Maryland uses a living-shoreline approach to increase resilience by reducing erosion . Credit: FWS
Coastal wetlands may face a direct threat from sea level rise, but if properly managed, these systems can help protect other coastal habitats and communities from impacts associated with climate change, including flooding and erosion. Now managers in the mid-Atlantic states have a resource that can help them prioritize wetland restoration efforts in terms of the potential to increase coastal and community resilience.
With funding from the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) has released Developing Wetland Restoration Priorities for Climate Risk Reduction and Resilience in the MARCO Region, a report prepared by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) that catalogs best practices for identifying and prioritizing wetlands to optimize community risk reduction and resilience in the face of climate change.
The report provides practitioners in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia a comprehensive snapshot of wetland prioritization activities in their state -- from vulnerability mapping to policies that support living shorelines -- but it also gives them the opportunity to see what’s happening beyond their borders.
“The five Mid-Atlantic states all do different things really well, and now this report lets them see what others in the region are doing,” explained Kaity Goldsmith, Project Manager at MARCO. “The idea is that everyone’s work will advance if they can learn from each other.”
As part of a cohort of projects that received funding from the Department of Interior to investigate threats to coastal systems and species in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, MARCO partnered with ELI to research where and to what extent the goals of climate-risk reduction and resilience are being met in programs that impact wetlands. ELI developed the inventory of best practices, and a proposed framework to support a regional approach to risk reduction and resilience, while allowing for improvement in individual states or programs.
The new report synthesizes both the inventory and the framework, which is intended to provide common ground, but not a single convention. “A cookie-cutter approach is never going to be the answer, but we want everyone to have access to the same tools, and to be able to conceptualize their work through a clear framework so they use the right tools for the right jobs,” said Goldsmith.
Aligning best practices to shore up wetlands is not just increasingly important because of threats from climate change; it’s also increasingly important given the capacity to address them.
“All states have limited resources, so anytime you can create synergy and efficiency in work you are doing, it’s going to be advantageous,” said Goldsmith. “The hope is that this report helps to support greater efficiency across this region.”
Read more about this effort on MARCO’s website.