Understanding how an ecosystem service approach can be utilized to support the protection and restoration of estuarine systems
Coastal systems provide a number of benefits that improve the quality of life for nearby communities, collectively called ecosystem services. For example, coastal wetlands can improve water quality by removing nutrients and sediment, and they provide communities with a critical layer of defense against flooding and extreme weather. In addition to these services, wetlands are increasingly recognized for their ability to capture and store large amounts of carbon, “blue carbon,” and contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation. Stakeholder collaboration and tools that can value these services accurately will help coastal managers make more informed decisions.
Understanding and communicating the different values provided by estuarine systems is a priority need for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. As a result, Science Collaborative project teams are: developing and applying predictive models for topics such as greenhouse gas fluxes and resilience to storms; providing new science and tools to enable restoration projects to harness blue carbon markets; developing robust conceptual models of ecosystem services to help inform decision making; and developing tools for sustainable land use and planning.
To learn more about specific projects and research products in this focus area, follow the links below.