Perceptions of wetlands may have changed through history, but the trend remains the same. They’re disappearing, and fast.
For centuries, wetlands were places of disease and doom – swamps to be filled in, leveled, paved over. The habitat disappeared.
By the early 1900s, conservationists recognized them as places important for wildlife – particularly waterfowl – and outdoor recreation. Later, environmentalists realized they served as nature’s water filters.
And still wetlands disappeared, particularly in coastal areas.
Perhaps that’s because we are still undervaluing their considerable services.
That’s the compelling argument made by Mark Tercek and Jane Lubchenco in Ensia, a magazine showcasing environmental solutions in action.
Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, and Lubchenco, former adminstrator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and professor of marine ecology at Oregon State, call coastal wetland restoration “one of the smartest investments we can make.”
The authors note:
This isn’t just an environmental tragedy; it’s also an economic one. Coastal wetlands and other coastal habitats provide buffers against storm surges, filter pollution, sequester carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change, and serve as nurseries to help replenish depleted fish, crab and shrimp populations. The result is reduced flooding, healthier waterways, and increased fishing and recreational opportunities.
Read the Ensia article to learn why investing in coastal restoration can pay off handsomely, for our economy, for human well-being and for our health and safety.