Protecting wetlands for people: Strategic policy action can help wetlands mitigate risks and enhance resilience

Beaver reintroduction is a form of wetland management that benefits from coordination across borders and between many stakeholders

Endter-Wada et al. 2020

The authors of this paper propose national wetland commissions to coordinate protection, management and restoration of wetlands across national, regional and state borders. The wetland commission could be modeled on river and lake commissions, which have facilitated cooperatation, and brought together technical expertise and funding to enable management of water resources across boundaries. The mandate of national wetland commissions would be to strategically protect wetlands for the ecosystem services they provide – in particular flood, drought and fire risk reduction.

The authors take the United States as a case study, where wetlands and the services they provide remain largely unprotected. The authors suggest that a U.S. National Interagency Wetland Commission would use existing federal agency networks that involve tribal, state and local governments, and would promote stakeholder engagement and shared goal setting. The commission would also aid integration of wetland services into land-use and infrastructure decisions, such as disaster management planning. For example, the services provided by beaver reintroduction should be more commonly considered. Beavers create broad, diffuse floodplains which act as natural firebreaks, and can mitigate the effects of drought by recharging shallow aquifers and slowing the release of water throughout the growing season. Where beavers are not present, beaver-dam analogues can be used to have a similar effect.

Read the paper here for more details.