Conserving and Restoring Coastal Wetlands Globally: Identifying Opportunities and Constraints

Coastal habitats such as shellfish reefs, mangroves, tidal flats and salt marshes are the engines of prosperity for coastal communities and some of the most degraded ecosystems on earth. People depend on these habitats for food and, in some instances even protection from storms, but coastal habitats continue to be damaged by an array of acute and chronic stressors. As more people live in coastal areas, the loss of these habitats has local, regional and even global consequences, and restoration of these habitats is an element of marine conservation that will demand more attention. The science and practice of coastal wetland habitat restoration is developing, and despite the apparent differences between habitats from an ecological perspective, there are likely some important similarities that can help to propel all restoration efforts. Challenges common to all kinds of habitat restoration projects include the need to demonstrate ecologically meaningful outcomes at various scales, communicate lessons learned, assign economic value to the ecosystem benefits that accrue from coastal wetlands, and generate social and political support for conservation and restoration at significant scales. By exploring questions and issues like these across different habitats including bivalve reefs, mangroves, tidal flats and marshes, this session will enable practitioners to leverage their experiences, increase the cohesion within the restoration community, and explore ways to promote conservation and restoration at larger, ecologically-meaningful scales. Workshop participants will explore the differences and, more importantly, the similarities between conservation and restoration efforts aimed at protecting different types of coastal wetland habitats. We will identify ways to leverage knowledge and expertise across different kinds of habitats to identify potential funding mechanisms, and triggers for public policies that will lead to larger scale restoration.

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