Goal 4: Sufficient amount and diversity of healthy coastal wetlands

The Great Lakes Coastal Assembly will track progress towards this goal by collecting data for the following metric:

  • Coastal wetland area

Great Lakes coastal wetlands are most sustainable and are better able to provide benefits to fish, wildlife, and people when wetland extent and diversity are closer to their full potential across a diversity of regions.

The Assembly envisions coastal landscapes that support the unique structure and processes essential for sustaining healthy species populations, resilient natural communities, and for providing benefits to human society. In its  focus on coastal wetlands, the Assembly has stated a goal of “sufficient amount and diversity of healthy coastal wetlands.” Tracking progress towards this goal requires us to monitor state of coastal wetland areas across the Great Lakes basin.

  • Coastal wetland area

Tracking coastal wetland area is important for assessing the condition of wetland ecosystems across the Great Lakes basin. More than 50% of the historical range of coastal wetlands has been lost. Sizable wetland areas across a diversity of regions basin-wide are critical for breeding and migrating birds, spawning and nursery areas for fish, and other ecosystem services. The coastal wetland area indicator allows Blue Accounting to monitor losses to wetland area and track progress towards conservation goals

A basin-wide assessment of coastal wetland area or extent has not been completed since 2004. A forthcoming project to update this baseline was mentioned in the State of the Great Lakes 2017 Technical Report. Additionally, MTRI, the GLCWMP and the US EPA are exploring improved methods to assess costal wetland extent by considering potential wetland areas and – ideally – incorporating hydrologic connection to the Great Lakes. The USGS, through its Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Restoration Assessment decision support tool, mapped areas of potential coastal wetlands.

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