The wetlands of Chesapeake Bay have provided the vital habitats that have sustained the impressive wildlife populations that have brought international fame to the Bay. As these wetland habitats decrease in quantity and quality we will continue to see the decline in the wildlife populations that started when European settlers first came to this continent. These declines have accelerated significantly in this century. As the human population continues to increase in the Bay watershed, one can expect that wetland habitats will continue to decline, resulting in declines in species diversity and population numbers. Although federal, state, and local governments are striving for 'no net loss' of wetlands, the results to date are not encouraging. It is unrealistic to believe that human populations and associated development can continue to increase and not adversely affect the wetland resources of the Bay. Restrictions on human population growth in the Chesapeake area is clearly the best way to protect wetland habitats and the wildlife that are dependent on these habitats. In addition, there should be more aggressive approaches to protect wetland habitats from continued perturbations from humans. More sanctuary areas should be created and there should be greater use of enhancement and management techniques that will benefit the full complement of species that potentially exist in these wetlands. The present trend in wetland loss can be expected to continue as human populations increase with resultant increases in roads, shopping malls, and housing developments. Creation of habitat for mitigation of these losses will not result in 'no net loss'. More innovative approaches should be employed to reverse the long-term trend in wetland loss by humans.
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Wetland habitats for wildlife of the Chesapeake Bay