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

Endter-Wada, J., Kettenring, K. M., & Sutton-Grier, A. | Environmental Science & Policy | 2020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2020.01.016

Abstract

We elevate the undervalued role of wetland protective services for mitigating disastrous consequences of unprecedented weather-related events for human communities. Scientific evidence increasingly reveals that wetlands play critical hydrologic roles in landscapes, helping to mitigate flood, drought, and, in some cases, fire risks. However, wetland protective services have not received sufficient policy action. We propose national wetland commissions, modeled after the concept of lake and river commissions, as one way to strategically link wetland protection to other societal objectives, including human disaster risk planning, infrastructure investments, and climate adaptation strategies. We offer an example applicable to the United States, describing an institutional design for a National Interagency Wetland Commission. We suggest it could be patterned after existing federal commissions statutorily created by Congress with delegated administrative and regulatory authority and designated independent agency status within the executive branch. It is time for bold and innovative policy action to incorporate wetland protective services into societies’ defenses against extreme weather events.