Approaches to the conservation of coastal wetlands in the Western Hemisphere

The Wilson Bulletin
By: , and 



Coastal wetlands rank among the most productive and ecologically valuable natural ecosystems on Earth. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most disturbed. Because they are productive and can serve as transportation arteries, coastal wetlands have long attracted human settlement. More than half of the U.S. population currently lives within 80 km of its coasts, and one estimate places 70% of all humanity in the coastal zone. Human impacts to coastal wetlands include physical alteration of hydrological processes; the introduction of toxic materials, nutrients, heat, and exotic species; and the unsustainable harvest of native species. Between 1950 and 1970, coastal wetland losses in the U.S. averaged 8 100 ha/year. In Central and South America, development pressures along the coastal zone rank among the most serious natural resource problems in the region..... Here, we (1) briefly describe coastal wetland avifauna, (2) discuss the threat of global warming on coastal wetlands, (3) use several Western Hemisphere wetlands as site-specific examples of development pressures facing these habitats, and (4) provide synopses of nongovernmental and governmental approaches to wetland conservation. Overall, we provide a socio-economic context for conservation of coastal wetlands in the Western Hemisphere. We suggest that efforts aimed at conserving sites of particular importance for their biological diversity should be pursued within a framework of wise use that addresses the broader issues of human population growth and economic development.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Approaches to the conservation of coastal wetlands in the Western Hemisphere
Series title The Wilson Bulletin
Volume 103
Issue 2
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher Wilson Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 37 p.
First page 218
Last page 254