Restoration and Conservation of Coastal Forested Wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico
The purpose of this study was to review available information on freshwater forested wetlands (FFW) in the coastal zones (plus 25 miles) of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to identify wetland types, ecosystem functions and services, recent and/or historical losses, ecological and environmental benefits of restoration, and conservation and restoration opportunities.
Freshwater forested wetlands are an important component of the coastal ecology of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Dominated by baldcypress-water tupelo swamps and hardwood wetlands, these forests reduce nutrients and sediments in surface water that ultimately flows into the Gulf, provide wildlife habitat, protect coastal urban areas from storm surge, retain stormwater, recharge groundwater, support timber, fish, fur, and alligator harvests, offer opportunities for recreation, and sequester carbon. Costanza et al. (1997) estimated the value of ecosystem services worldwide and determined that swamps and floodplains had the second highest economic value ($7,927 per acre per year), second only to coastal estuaries ($9,248 per acre per year).
The purpose of this study was to review available information on freshwater forested wetlands (FFW) in the coastal zones of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to identify wetland types, ecosystem functions and services, wetland losses, ecological and environmental benefits of restoration, and conservation and restoration opportunities. There were five primary objectives for this project, including:
1. Identify FFW types within the study area by state;
2. Acquire maps illustrating locations of FFW types by state and/or for the Gulf Coast study area;
3. Conduct a literature review on coastal FFW in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to describe types, ecosystem functions and services, losses, and environmental and economic benefits of restoration;
4. Identify coastal forest conservation and restoration programs, potential coastal forest restoration areas by program type, and critical areas for future restoration and conservation; and
5. Produce a final report that synthesizes the compiled information.
To accomplish these objectives, the following tasks were completed, including:
1. Identify the project study area (coastal zone + 25 miles);
2. Review available information (e.g., peer-reviewed manuscripts, federal, state, and local program web sites) for coastal FFW in the five Gulf Coast states;
3. Discuss conservation and restoration strategies with appropriate state and local entities; and
4. Compile existing maps showing range of wetlands types and conservation and restoration priority areas. [Abstract and Introduction]
J.W. Day, Jr, R.G. Hunter
Benefits (general/multiple), Ecosystem Management, Watershed Management
Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas