Managing coastal wetlands in the age of climate change is a complex process that is going to become more complex as coastlines, wetlands, and estuaries continue to experience rising sea levels. Scientists are anticipating an increase in inland flooding, saltwater incursion into existing wetlands, and wetland migration.
The Critical Role of Wetlands
Estuaries and coastal wetlands have a critical role in the ecosystem of coastal waterways, lands, and fishing industries. Wetlands act as spawning and nursery grounds for many species. Previous efforts at halting coastal erosion, such as building hardened shorelines, may make the natural process of wetland migration more difficult or impossible. The role of scientists and municipal planners in carefully and safely managing the changes coming to coastal wetlands in the coming decades will be critical if the balance in these natural ecosystems will be maintained, and our coastal regions will remain vibrant and teeming with life.
Preventing Coastal Erosion
Geotextiles have an essential role in preventing the worst effects of coastal erosion, especially after storms. Different types of geotextiles have provided containment and stabilization for silt migration and new sand applications on beaches, support for dunes, and similar uses. A number of biodegradable geotextiles made from jute and coir, as well as the long-lasting polypropylene, have been used to prevent both coastal beach erosion and contamination of wetlands by urban runoff. Wetlands are easily contaminated by storm drainage and runoff. Geotextiles play a critical role in water filtration and in trapping dangerous sediment that can strangle plant and animal life and interfere with oxygenation of the water.
Scientists from NOAA are anticipating a new challenge in managing coastal wetlands. With rising sea levels confirmed, planning for the next few decades includes managing wetlands migration.
The migration of existing wetlands inland will involve saltwater and freshwater wetlands to be impacted by the incursion of saltwater on one side, and in many places, urban or industrial development on the other. Some coastal communities have buffers in place that will ease the impacts of this anticipated migration. Land and conservation easements of various types have been used by both conservation groups and governments for land planning, especially for fragile ecosystems. But for coastal communities to remain resilient in the face of climate change, wetland migration inland will need to be carefully managed for the long-term health of these critical spawning grounds.
Belton Industries, Inc. is a specialty manufacturer of polypropylene and polyethylene yarns and woven fabrics providing custom solutions and partner-driven innovations. These innovations include custom fabric solutions for geotextile use:
- Beach & Coastal
- Erosion Control
- Reinforcement / Stabilization
Contact us to learn how we can help you with a custom solution for your specific needs.