Successful restoration of wetlands requires an understanding of the environmental conditions that structure plant and animal communities and the stressors (local and landscape), that impede the restoration effort. Wetland restoration in relatively undisturbed landscapes involves re-establishing the environmental template of hydrology, water quality and soils. In agricultural landscapes, amelioration of stressors
such as drainage and nutrient enrichment also are needed to restore plant and animal communities and keep invasive species in check. For more information on the restoration of wetlands and soils in agricultural landscapes of the Kankakee Sands in Northwest IN, see: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcseprd1401636.pdf.
Restoring wetlands in urban environments is the most challenging. On-site stressors such as fill, ditches and levees are compounded by conversion of the surrounding watershed to impervious surface that leads to increased peak flow, sediment transport and pollutant loadings.
We investigate the development of ecosystem services, productivity, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and nutrient retention in a recently restored (2008) tidal marsh in an urban landscape (New York Harbor USA) and in old (~50 years) relatively undisturbed natural tidal wetlands of the North Carolina coast. The work is supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service USFWS), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Results from these studies inform (1) expectations for successful wetland restoration in highly urbanized regions and (2) long-term sustainability of wetland restoration projects.
To learn more about wetland restoration efforts around the world, please see our book, Creating and Restoring Wetlands (2016).