This article is a follow-up on a previous piece in the National Wetlands Newsletter in which we outlined problems associated with a static, local approach to wetland management versus an alternative that proposes a temporal and geomorphic approach (Euliss et al. 2009). We extend that concept by drawing on companion papers recently published in the journal Wetlands (Euliss et al. 2008, Smith et al. 2008). Here we highlight reasons for the failure of many managed wetlands to provide a suite of ecosystem services (e.g., carbon storage, diodiversity, ground-water recharge, contaminant filtering, floodwater storage). Our principal theme is that wetland management is best approached by giving consideration to the hydrogeomorphic processes that maintain productive ecosystems and by removing physical and social impediments to those processes. Traditional management actions are often oriented toward maintaining static conditions in wetlands without considering the temporal cycles that wetlands need to undergo or achieve productivity for specific groups of wildlife, such as waterfowl. Possibly more often, a manager's ability to influence hydrogeomorphic processes is restricted by activities in surrounding watersheds. These could be dams, for example, which do not allow management of flood-pulse processes essential to productivity of riparian systems. In most cases, sediments and nutrients associated with land use in contributing watersheds complicate management of wetlands for a suite of services, including wildlife. Economic or policy forces far-removed from a wetland often interact to prevent occurrence of basic ecosystem processes. Our message is consistent with recommendation of supply-side sustainability of Allen et al. (2002) in which ecosystems are managed "for the system that produces outputs rather than the outputs themselves."
Additional publication details
Sustainable wetland management and support of ecosystem services