Articles & Reports – Marsh Restoration

Topic Key

Green Infrastructure

History & Science

Locally Focused


Wetlands Concepts

Scientists measure the depth to bedrock (Source: TWI)

The Wetlands Initiative - 2020

"Although there is no one "silver bullet" method, much can be done to see if a restoration is on track. Following the restoration plan and keeping track of the inputs (quantity of seed planted, number of species planted as plugs) is one way to make sure that restoration targets are met. However, strictly following these steps does not guarantee success, as many unexpected obstacles might occur (a dry or a wet year, a new invasive species, inability to conduct a burn). That is why most restoration and conservation managers, including TWI ecologists, follow a strategy called adaptive management."

Young mangroves. (Source: Pixabay/Smithsonian)

The Nature Conservancy, Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs

"This project planted black mangroves on Fifi Island near Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to mitigate for significant mangrove habitat declines experienced in Louisiana; to provide a future protection buffer for storm impacts; and to conduct research to determine optimum conditions for mangrove habitat restoration on barrier islands, barrier headlands and riparian areas south of the frost line in the Barataria Basin.

Emphasis was placed on black mangrove hydrology to advance the scientific body of knowledge regarding black mangrove restoration techniques and to provide guidance for creation of optimum mangrove habitat in restored areas of Fifi Island."

Volunteers build the marsh.

Pontchartrain Conservancy - Feb 2017

"The Bayou St. John Urban Marsh is part of a larger project to improve the health of Bayou St. John. Restoration to the historical condition is impossible due to urbanization along the banks of the bayou. At the mouth of the bayou the channel was dredged in order to increase flow into the bayou when the flood gates are opened. By having natural wetlands close to the opening, it is intended to encourage organisms to use and live in the wetland and then when the gates are opened, the organisms are swept into the bayou. By introducing the fresh, oxygenated water and small organisms that are the basis of the food chain, the health of the bayou will be improved. Water from the bayou is pumped into City park and becomes part of the lagoon system."

"Children write their names on sticks that are planted with their plants." (Source: PVF)

Princess Vlei Forum

"The Princess Vlei restoration project Growing Conservation Communities seeks to ignite community led conservation to restore critical habitats in the Greater Princess Vlei Conservation Area. It is projected to encompass the largest community led mass-planting event in the Greater Cape Floristic Region. While planting has been happening for ten years, the scope and rigour of this restoration plan takes the process to a new level."

Information about the Princess Vlei Restoration Project can also be found on the Society for Ecological Restoration website.

The Harbor Beacon at Bucktown Harbor (Source: Jefferson Parish)

Bucktown Harbor - 2021

"Bucktown’s evolution started in the mid-19th century with the Lakeport commercial wharf and resort area. It was a transit crossroads, with steamboats docking at the entrance to the New Basin Canal to link up with the terminus of the Jefferson and Lake Pontchartrain Railroad. Around this steamboat and railroad terminus emerged Bucktown’s first development—rustic fishing buildings, and later, more elaborate wooden camps built on docks. Early Bucktown had a lot to offer, but perhaps of greatest notoriety were its restaurants serving wild-caught seafood, wildfowl, and game. With great food came other complimentary activities—prohibition-era speakeasies, gaming dens, dance halls, and other less respectable establishments. The regional jazz music scene also gained footing from Bucktown’s raucous nightlife."

"Urban wetlands make cities livable." (Source: Wetlands International)

Wetlands International - Jun 2019

"As cities are increasingly challenged by rapid urbanization, population growth and the impacts of land degradation and climate change, they are in the need of finding adequate solutions for sustainable city development.

As most of this development is taking place in river-side and coastal areas the rapid loss of valuable wetland ecosystems makes our cities increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather events and climate change. We strongly believe, if we increasingly shift towards the implementation of blue-green infrastructure in cities, we can achieve more resilient and sustainable city development in the future."

Page 1 (Source: CA State Water Resources Control Board)

California Water Boards - Nov 2013

This document from California's State Water Resources Control Board details the guidelines of small habitat restoration projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. The information in this certification order can be used to categorize small-scale restoration projects.

"This Certification Order (Order) authorizes small habitat restoration projects that qualify for a categorical exemption under Title 14, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Division 6, Chapter 3, Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Article 19, section 15333, "Small Habitat Restoration Projects." These projects can improve the quality of waters of the state and contribute to the Loss Policy (Executive Order W-59-93)."

Docville Farm in St. Bernard Parish (Source: Meraux Foundation)

The Meraux Foundation - 2018

"Our Coastal and Environmental Initiatives range from outreach to schools in St. Bernard to prepare students for jobs in the growing field of coastal restoration to engaging stakeholders in efforts to protect the coast and respects the way of life in St. Bernard."

“'The Meraux Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish, and with land as our primary asset for effecting change, prioritizing coastal initiatives makes complete sense on multiple fronts,' said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. 'The parish is on the front line of the battle to save the coast. More than just the land, though, it’s about protecting our way of life: our homes, our culture, our economy.'”

Goose Point/Point Platte Marsh Creation Map (Source: LaCoast)

Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force - Mar 2021

"The goal of this project is to re-create marsh habitat in the open water behind the shoreline. This new marsh will maintain the lake-rim function along this section of the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain by preventing the formation of breaches into interior ponds.

Sediment will be dredged from Lake Pontchartrain and contained in cells within the interior ponds to create approximately 417 acres of marsh. In addition, 149 acres of degraded marsh will be nourished with dredged material. Marsh will be created to widen the shoreline so that the ponds will not be breached during the course of normal shoreline retreat."

A woman working on a dune restoration in Australia. (Source: Raphael Ben-Ari)

Barry Nerhus, Scientific American - Jun 2019

"Community-based restoration is, essentially, a sustainable conservation program. Rather than relying on present-day law and public opinion to assign importance, it incorporates the value of conservation efforts into the backbone of a community.  When executed correctly, habitat restoration becomes a critical consideration of the legal, academic and economic infrastructures in a given location.  Let’s take a look at what community involvement in each of these areas might look like."

Wetlands Nature Preserve (Source: Eve Cundiff, Flickr)

Smithsonian Ocean - Nov 2013

"While hurricanes aren't likely to entirely remove the wetlands, they are able to do significant damage. Their powerful winds, rainfall and rushing floodwater can do enough harm to permanently remove land. The pounding surf can break down marshes' soft sediments and thick mats of dead grass, which are pliable and easily reshaped. Sometimes channels of fast-moving water flow to inland areas, which never again dry up—contributing to permanent land loss. Rushing wind and water can compact or move mats of grass and mud, while carrying smaller clumps of dead marsh plants to interior marshes or shorelines. And when saltwater floods into freshwater marshes, the wetland plants and animals can undergo temporary or long-term changes as the water chemistry changes around them."

Planting beachgrass. (Source: Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah)

Southeast New England Program

"While it may seem like a straightforward planting project, this restoration highlights the connections between human society and the ecologies we depend on. The tribe’s millennia-long relationship with the land inspired members to join the volunteer crews each year. Every October, they mark the cranberry harvest with a festival celebrating the significance of their entanglement with the land. The planting days have built relationships between the tribe and other civic organizations. The Girl Scouts turned out to plant alongside local fishermen and garden club members, all united in a desire to keep the land."

Logo for The New Orleans Advocate and The Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune - Dec 2008

"The mouth of Bayou St. John, for a cast of officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and Orleans Levee District, represents more than anything a point of vulnerability. Their priority is simple: keep storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain at bay, and prevent the transformation of a natural waterway into a highway for delivering floodwater to New Orleans' heart. But for an increasingly vocal alliance of New Orleanians, the junction of the bayou and the vast lake represents much more than a flood protection issue."

Planting Bald Cypress on newly formed land (Source: PC)

Nature Education - 2010

"Ecological restoration aims to recreate, initiate, or accelerate the recovery of an ecosystem that has been disturbed. Disturbances are environmental changes that alter ecosystem structure and function. Common disturbances include logging, damming rivers, intense grazing, hurricanes, floods, and fires. Restoration activities may be designed to replicate a pre-disturbance ecosystem or to create a new ecosystem where it had not previously occurred. Restoration ecology is the scientific study of repairing disturbed ecosystems through human intervention."

Benefits of a wetlands (Source: TNC)

The Nature Conservancy - 2020

"The last remaining natural wetland of Chennai – Pallikaranai – is easy to miss amid the urban spread of roads and buildings all around. The mere 10% that’s left is vaguely reminiscent of the 6,000 hectares that this wetland once covered in the 1960s. Pallikaranai represents the story of more than 90% of Chennai’s wetlands, which have been degraded or lost due to rapid and unplanned urbanisation. This is impacting the quality of life of Chennai’s residents as they grapple with issues of water security, as well as the city’s environment and urban biodiversity. This degradation has compromised Chennai’s resilience against storms, floods and drought, as its wetlands can no longer absorb excess water during floods, nor provide adequate surface and groundwater during droughts."

An infographic about restoration projects. (Source: Sankofa CDC)

Sankofa CDC - 2021

"The Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail is a long-term recovery project that aims to improve protection from hurricanes and flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward. The Sankofa Wetland Park was developed during 2017 in partnership with Sewerage and Water Board and the City of New Orleans. Sankofa worked with a team of wetland ecologists and landscape architects to transform this area into a space for environmental education, relaxation, and recreation for all to enjoy."

A mangrove restoration site where most of the trees died. (Source: KAS Kodikara)

Society for Ecological Restoration

"In 2004, the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami invigorated the Sri Lankan government and people to turn their attention to restoring the country’s mangrove stands to prevent such catastrophic damage from future disasters. It has an area of approximately square 65,610km with a coastline of about 1,620km on the Indian Ocean. Mangrove restoration projects were launched in Sri Lanka covering over 2,000 hectares. However, over 80% of these projects failed. Kondikara et al. 2017 conducted an assessment of the success of 23 mangrove restoration projects implemented following the 2004 tsunami."

London Wetland Centre (Source: Ron Gilbey)


"Recently the possibilities for creating wetlands in and around towns and cities have been given more attention, following the disappearance in recent decades of large stretches of wet nature, and thus also natural buffers, as a result of urban expansions and land drainage. Wetlands are created to buffer some of the run-off from precipitation and slow the rate at which it drains away. This is a new approach compared with rapid drainage systems using ditches and pipes. Another benefit of wetlands is that biological pollutants are eliminated by plant life and settle in the sediment, which significantly improves the quality of the run-off."

Scholarly research

The path of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Source: Rimal)

Rimal (Georgia State University) - Dec 2017

"The wetlands of the coastal Louisiana have been disappearing at an alarming rate. The rate was further accelerated during the Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina converted a large area of wetland into open water by bulk removal of vegetation, flooding, and killing of plants through the salt water inundation. The aim of this study was to quantify wetland loss rates in a high salinity wetland of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana before and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall... Images from 1990 and 2010 were analyzed to estimate total wetland loss and the wetland loss contributed by Hurricane Katrina over the 20-year period. The analysis revealed that wetland loss in the study area during Hurricane Katrina accounted for over half (65%) of the total land lost over a 20-year period (1990 to 2010)."

Dump sites on a proposed Viet Village Farm lot. (Source: Michael Kantor)

Syracuse University - 2013

"Wetland banking is an increasingly prominent environmental governance strategy in the United States. Associated with larger trends toward the financialization of ecosystem services, wetland banking acts as a mode of social regulation while stabilizing a particular regime of accumulation. Its use by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the development of wetlands has certain implications for the distribution of and access to land, water, and capital. This thesis investigates a particular wetland development project in southeastern Louisiana and its relation to a local wetland bank, the Army Corps of Engineers, and a multinational oil company. This thesis concludes that wetland banking as an environmental governance strategy reproduces a system of uneven development and environmental injustice."

Geomorphological impacts of tamarix on the Green River. (Source: Zedler & Kercher)

Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences - 2004

"Wetlands seem to be especially vulnerable to invasions. Even though ≤6% of the earth’s land mass is wetland, 24% (8 of 33) of the world’s most invasive plants are wetland species. Furthermore, many wetland invaders form monotypes, which alter habitat structure, lower biodiversity (both number and “quality” of species), change nutrient cycling and productivity (often increasing it), and modify food webs. Wetlands are landscape sinks, which accumulate debris, sediments, water, and nutrients, all of which facilitate invasions by creating canopy gaps or accelerating the growth of opportunistic plant species."

Conceptual framework of the four major coastal MER challenges. (Source: FMS)

Frontiers in Marine Science - Nov 2020

"Coastal marine ecosystems provide critical goods and services to humanity but many are experiencing rapid degradation. The need for effective restoration tools capable of promoting large-scale recovery of coastal ecosystems in the face of intensifying climatic stress has never been greater. We identify four major challenges for more effective implementation of coastal marine ecosystem restoration (MER): (1) development of effective, scalable restoration methods, (2) incorporation of innovative tools that promote climate adaptation, (3) integration of social and ecological restoration priorities, and (4) promotion of the perception and use of coastal MER as a scientifically credible management approach."

The effects of treatment on primar response variables (Source: Lishawa et al.)

Ecology and Evolution - Jun 2019

"Plant invasions result in biodiversity losses and altered ecological functions, though quantifying loss of multiple ecosystem functions presents a research challenge. Plant phylogenetic diversity correlates with a range of ecosystem functions and can be used as a proxy for ecosystem multifunctionality. Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands are ideal systems for testing invasive species management effects because they support diverse biological communities, provide numerous ecosystem services, and are increasingly dominated by invasive macrophytes. Invasive cattails are among the most widespread and abundant of these taxa."

Study area in Southeastern Louisiana. (Source: Smith)

Smith (University of New Orleans) - Dec 2015

"Quantifying the impacts of restoration on coastal waterways is crucial to understanding their effectiveness. Here, I look at the impacts of multiple restoration projects on urban waterways within the city limits of New Orleans, LA, with an emphasis on the response of fishes. First I report the effects of two projects designed to improve exchange down estuary on the hydrologic characteristics of Bayou St. John (BSJ). Within BSJ, flow is dominated by subtidal wind driven processes. Removal of an outdated flood control structure did not appear to alter exchange in BSJ, but removal combined with sector gate openings did... No significant differences in Freshwater or Estuarine fish guild species richness was observed for any of the control or impact sites. The findings here can be used to optimize management of exchange flow in coastal impounded waterways."

Relationships (Source: Calloway)

Calloway (Journal of Coastal Research) - 2005

"Substantial improvements have been made in the restoration of coastal salt marshes over the last decade; however, many challenges remain. Some opportunities for improving restoration efforts include: I. Increasing our understanding of the development of restored salt marsh ecosystems over time, especially in comparison to natural marsh development; and identifying the limiting factors that restrict the development of restored salt marshes. II. Considering the role of plant species diversity in restored salt marshes. Recent research at Tijuana Estuary has demonstrated that there is a significant effect of plant species diversity on the development of ecosystem functions in a restored salt marsh... Rigorously designed scientific experiments that identify cause-effect relationships for the development of restored salt marshes could substantially improve the design, implementation, and monitoring of restoration projects."


The title page of the report. (Source: PC)

Pontchartrain Conservancy - Jul 2020

"The BSJ Urban Marsh is an example of a type of wetland creation project that can be implemented along the armored south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Creating fringing marsh habitat, even in small patches, provides habitat for fish, invertebrates, birds, and other animals. Increasing the amount of fringing marsh along the south shore is one of the ten Pontchartrain Coastal Lines of Defense outlined by the PC as a priority for both increasing storm surge protection and establishing critical habitat for priority species."

Cover art for the report (Source: National Research Council)

National Research Council - 2001

"Underlying wetland mitigation is the assumption that it is scientifically possible for humans to recreate the structure and functions of a wetland, either by restoring a site that had previously been a wetland or by creating an entirely new wetland. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the ecological principles of wetland creation and restoration science and evaluate the current scientific ability of practitioners to restore or create various aspects of wetland functioning in a variety of environments. The chapter is structured to answer several questions posed in the committee's Statement of Task about the ecological basis of wetland mitigation."

(Source: Center for Watershed Protection)

Center for watershed protection - dec 2006

"Wetlands provide important ecological services that contribute to watershed functions, most notably in pollutant removal, flood attenuation, groundwater recharge and discharge, shoreline protection, and wildlife habitat. The benefit of wetland ecological services generally increases as total wetland cover increases in a watershed. Numerous researchers have quantified the economic benefits provided by wetlands in a watershed. When wetlands are lost or degraded by land development, these services must often be replaced by costly water treatment and flood control infrastructure. Given the many watershed services wetlands provide, wetland conservation and restoration should be an integral part of a comprehensive local watershed management strategy."

A wetlands project. (Source: WHC)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2020

"Wetlands projects attempt to manage and enhance existing wetland habitat or create new wetland areas.

Wetlands projects vary in size, but are usually limited by existing conditions that are conducive to the soil saturation or inundation needed for wetland habitat, or by the resources and space available to create those conditions.

Several factors will impact which species a wetland will benefit, including its size, whether it includes open water, the water’s depth, and whether it is permanent or seasonable in nature."