A statewide approach for identifying potential areas for wetland restoration and mitigation banking in Georgia: an ecosystem function approach
Kramer, Elizabeth A.
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Georgia ranks second among EPA Region 4 states in estimated wetland acreage and has a rich diversity of wetland types. Georgia is currently the nations 10th most populous state and is projected to double in population within the next 25 years. A large fraction of this growth is projected for areas proximal to wetlands, such as coastal counties. Currently in Georgia there is no coordinated statewide program for the identification and prioritization of landscape-level wetland areas used for wetland mitigation banks or other restoration activities. As a result, current restoration efforts benefit the immediate area and satisfy “no-net-loss”, but may not contribute greatly to the overall health of the watershed. Developing a prioritization map of potential wetland restoration areas will help natural resource managers focus restoration efforts in areas that will provide the greatest cumulative effect on the health of a watershed and surrounding communities. The purpose of this project is to provide state, federal and non-governmental natural resource managers with a Georgia-specific GIS database of potential areas for wetland mitigation banks and conservation and restoration projects using a GIS model to prioritize wetland functions and values. The potential wetland restoration areas (PWRA) prioritization model is constructed in two components; component one prioritizes wetland areas based upon ecosystem functions, and component two prioritizes wetland areas based upon threats to these functions. In addition to providing information for the 404 and 401 processes, the output could provide information and coordination for many statewide planning activities.