Resilience measure: Wetland and wetland restoration


A wetland (Natural or Constructed/Artificial) is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. Primarily, the factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to its unique hydric soil
(Wikipedia, Wetland, accessed on Sept. 2016). Constructed wetlands are man-made systems, designed and constructed using the natural processes typical of natural wetlands. These natural processes are an interaction and combination of wetland plants, soil and microbial life. Knowledge of these natural processes is used to control the operation and efficiency of the constructed wetlands
(Constructed Wetlands, accessed on Sept. 2016).
Constructed wetlands are primarily used for the control of urban runoff as well as for water quality improvements. They are typically designed to have a short residence time in order to prevent mosquito breeding. Wetland restoration can serve to reduce coastal flooding and erosion and can also provide new habitats and environmental benefits. Wetland restoration relates to the rehabilitation of previously existing wetland functions from a more impaired to a less impaired or unimpaired state of overall function. Although similar to managed realignment, wetland restoration can be distinguished by the goal to maintain the present position of the coastline as opposed to realigning landward, as occurs under managed realignment
(Climatetechwiki, Wetland restoration, accessed on Sept. 2016).

Co-benefits and impacts

Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Constructed wetlands restore habitat for native and migratory wildlife, for anthropogenic discharge such as wastewater, stormwater runoff, or sewage treatment, for land reclamation after mining, refineries, or other ecological disturbances. Additional benefit of wetland restoration is the reduction of incoming wave and tidal energy by enhancing energy dissipation in the intertidal zone. This is achieved by increasing the roughness of the surface over which incoming waves and tides travel. This reduces the erosive power of waves and helps to reduce coastal flood risk by diminishing the height of storm surges. In contrast to hard defences, wetlands are capable of undergoing ‘autonomous’ adaptation to sea level rise, through increased accumulation of sediments to allow the elevation of the wetland to keep pace with changes in sea level. Coastal wetlands also provide a number of important ecosystem services including water quality and climate regulation, they are valuable accumulation sites for sediment, contaminants, carbon and nutrients and they also provide vital breeding and nursery ground for a variety of birds, fish, shellfish and mammals. They are also a sustainable source of timber, fuel and fibre. The restoration and recreation of wetlands can also reduce or even reverse wetland loss as a result of coastal development. This is important in terms of maintaining the global area of wetlands and in sustaining wetlands in the face of climate change. Wetland creation may also fulfil legal obligations for the compensation of habitats lost through development
(Climatetechwiki, Wetland restoration, accessed on Sept. 2016).

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Last modified: Sept. 19, 2016, 12:22 p.m.