Freshwater forested wetlands commonly occur in the lower Coastal Plain of the southeastern US with baldcypress (Taxodium distichum [L.] L.C. Rich.) and water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica L.) often being the dominant trees. Extensive anthropogenic activities combined with eustatic sea-level rise and land subsidence have caused widespread hydrological changes in many of these forests. In addition, hurricanes (a common, although aperiodic occurrence) cause wide-spread damage from wind and storm surge events, with impacts exacerbated by human-mediated coastal modifications (e.g., dredging, navigation channels, etc.). Restoration of forested wetlands in coastal areas is important because emergent canopies can greatly diminish wind penetration, thereby reducing the wind stress available to generate surface waves and storm surge that are the major cause of damage to coastal ecosystems and their surrounding communities. While there is an overall paucity of large-scale restoration efforts within coastal forested wetlands of the southeastern US, we have determined important characteristics that should drive future efforts. Restoration efforts may be enhanced considerably if coupled with hydrological enhancement, such as freshwater, sediment, or sewage wastewater diversions. Large-scale restoration of coastal forests should be attempted to create a landscape capable of minimizing storm impacts and maximizing wetland sustainability in the face of climate change. Planting is the preferred regeneration method in many forested wetland sites because hydrological alterations have increased flooding, and planted seedlings must be protected from herbivory to enhance establishment. Programs identifying salt tolerance in coastal forest tree species need to be continued to help increase resilience to repetitive storm surge events.
Additional Publication Details
Restoration of freshwater Cypress-Tupelo Wetlands in the southeastern U.S. following severe hurricanes