Louisiana's coast and its degradation and restoration are major environmental issues being studied at the National Wetlands Research Center. Coastal ecosystems are vulnerable because of the tremendous amount of human activity that takes place along the coast. Information on ecological processes is essential to guide the development along the coast as well as to protect and restore wildlife habitat.
Louisiana has about 40% of coastal wetlands in the lower 48 states; they support fish, waterfowl, and fur-bearing animals as well as unique cultures like that of the Acadians. The fish and wildlife resources of Louisiana's coast produce over $1 billion each year in revenues.
But Louisiana has the highest coastal loss rate because of natural and human causes. Over the past three decades, Louisiana has lost as much as 35-40 mi2 (90-104 km2) of coastal wetlands a year.
The National Wetlands Research Center is qualified to assess and monitor this ecosystem because of its proximity to the study area, a staff chosen for their expertise in the system, and a number of established partnerships with others who study the areas. The Center is often the lead group in partnerships with universities, other federal agencies, and private entities who study this ecosystem.
Most of the Center's research and technology development performed for coastal wetlands are done at the Lafayette headquarters; some work is performed at the National Wetlands Research Center's project office in Baton Rouge, LA.