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Coastal nearshore zones are “hot zones” where land, water, and people meet. They are key economic drivers that provide disproportionate ecosystem services supporting most human populations, economies, and qualities of life. The coastal marshes of the Great Lakes provide numerous ecosystem services to people, including buffering homes and roads from flooding, reducing wave energy from storms, providing nursery and feeding resources for fish and thereby supporting a world-class freshwater fishery, supporting nature-based tourism activities, offering aesthetic qualities in terms of an appealing view for residents and visitors, and improving water quality by filtered water through these coastal marshes. 

However, over the past decades, the Great Lakes have lost over two-thirds of its wetlands. Restoration and protection of these valuable resources are of the utmost priority in order to improve the health of the Great Lakes.

Several organizations have set forth coastal wetland goals for areas of the Great Lakes. The Lake Erie and Lake Huron Biodiversity Conservation Strategies set a goal of 10% restoration and protection of coastal wetlands in that basin. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II set a goal of 60,000 acres of restored and protected coastal wetlands by 2019. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has set a target of protecting 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. In 2017, progress towards regional goals for coastal wetlands will be tracked in the Projects & Progress module.

Strategies to Restore and Protect Coastal Wetlands

A. Identify, establish, and align goals for Great Lakes coastal wetland conservation targets

B. Use science and evidence-based information to focus on the places and actions to best pursue coastal wetland conservation toward attainment of goals

C. Fill knowledge and data gaps when they limit our ability to reduce uncertainty around decision about where, what, and how to conserve coastal wetlands

D. Collaboratively develop a vision for the coastal wetland landscape and step-down implementation strategies, best management practices, and sustainable financing plans

E. Identify major coastal wetland conservation funding sources and encourage use of implementation strategies and best management practices

F. Track progress towards goals and evaluate necessary adjustment in goals, strategies, and actions

Explore coastal wetlands across Great Lakes Inform...

Knowledge Network
Knowledge Network
Learn more about the ecological importance of coastal wetlands
Data Catalog
Data Catalog
Explore scientific data catalogs related to coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin
Dynamic Maps
Dynamic Maps
Access online maps that explore coastal wetland challenges and solutions
Decision Tools
Decision Tools
Browse models and decision support tools that help address coastal wetland challenges
Assess & Adapt
Projects & Progress
Find projects and track progress towards goals for coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes