From Green Policy
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Value the Wetlands - UN Biodiversity Infographic 2023.jpg

GreenPolicy360: Wetlands are estuaries, estuarine beaches, coastlines and shorelines, intercoastal waterways, lagoons, tidal flats, brackish waters, marshes and swamps (and in Florida the unrivaled Everglades), streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, spring-fed pools, floodplains, peatlands, bogs, rice paddies, and salt pans... land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally.

Wetlands are life enabling, vital waterways necessary for healthy environments, safety, natural resilience, eco-nomic sustainability.

UNDP / Development Goals

Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation, the global economy and more.

Yet, since 1970, 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost.

Wetlands are vital to our existence. They recharge our drinking water supply, protect our property from flooding, filter pollutants from stormwater, and offer habitat for important species. They even soak up the carbon that’s been heating up our atmosphere and causing climate change. -- Craig Pittman

GreenPolicy360: In Florida, a prime example of diverse wetlands and terrestrial home of GreenPolicy360, the wetlands are extensive and in danger. Florida wetlands and waterways are above and below ground as a result of the state's limestone, 'karst' geography. The peninsula's shorelines are longest in the continental US, and its intercoastal wetlands are extensive as much of the state's topography is near sea level.

Florida, described by GreenPolicy360 as "the Frontlines of Climate Change", is a model of how wetlands play a central role as climate impacts, e.g. sea-level rise impact all along the coastline. Florida's wetlands, although being rapidly developed and diminished, play a vital role in defending against sea-level rise, extreme weather, hurricanes, flooding, economic devastation, loss of biodiversity, wildlife, essential habitats for species, and on and on...

GreenPolicy360 continues an educational campaign with an urgent message. Now is the time for preserving and protecting living eco-systems. Wetlands are key to a larger 'pro life' message.

Read about the vital role of estuary wetlands


Visit GreenPolicy360's Wetlands Protection Project:

Living coastline

"Living Coastlines, Living Shorelines"




SCOTUS decision on water protection.png

May 25, 2023

(Today, May 25th) the Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to the nation’s wetlands by rewriting a statute the court does not like to mean something it does not mean. The court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA is one of the its most egregious betrayals of textualism in memory. Put simply: The Clean Water Act protects wetlands that are “adjacent” to larger bodies of water. Five justices, however, do not think the federal government should be able to stop landowners from destroying wetlands on their property. To close this gap between what the majority wants and what the statute says, the majority crossed through the word “adjacent” and replaced it with a new test that’s designed to give landowners maximum latitude to fill in, build upon, or otherwise obliterate some of the most valuable ecosystems on earth.


The law expressly protects “waters of the United States” (like rivers and lakes) as well as “wetlands adjacent” to these waters. Congress added the wetlands provision in 1977 to codify the EPA’s definition of “adjacent,” which also happens to be the actual definition: “bordering, contiguous, or neighboring.” Under that interpretation—the one Congress adopted—wetlands that neighbor a larger body of water remain protected, even if they aren’t directly connected.

Why did Congress make that choice? Because wetlands provide immense environmental benefits: They filter and purify water draining into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes. They slow down runoff into these larger bodies. And they serve as vital flood control. In other words, the Clean Water Act has to protect “adjacent” wetlands to serve its overarching goal of safeguarding the broader “waters of the United States” from pollution.


Managed and Protected, Wetlands Can Protect Your Shorelines and Communities

Eco-wetlands, e.g., Coastal Mangrove Biospheres and Reserves Are 'Nature's Solutions' for Eco-Sustainability

Eco-defenses, 'Biomimicry', Natural Solutions Offer Living Resilience Against Hurricanes/Typhoons/Extreme Weather/Ocean Surges/Flooding

Eco-systems Solutions, Designed/Managed with Local Support Can Work Better than Sea Walls/Constructed Barriers

Mangroves and Coastal Wetlands tracked by Landsat.png

Using observational earth science remote imaging tools, e.g., the Landsat satellite mission imaging data to measure/monitor wetland systems and dynamic change

GreenPolicy360: With a special thanks to a 'father' of Landsat - Congressman George E. Brown


Wetlands - Wetlands Day.png

Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more.

Yet, nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests.

It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.

Join in Planet Citizens, reclaim your wetlands.

Rework, refresh, rejuvenate your local waterways !

Be blue-green with positive change -- Generation Green


In a New Book, Annie Proulx Shows Us How to 'Love' Wetlands

These vital carbon sinks and havens for biodiversity, rarely encountered, are disappearing three times faster than forests

December 2022

Wetlands provide refuge for biodiversity, help protect coastlines and control flooding. They are also carbon-dense, making them crucial bulwarks against global warming. Peatlands are especially essential; though they cover only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface, peatlands “store twice as much carbon as forests.”

For all their importance to sustaining human life, few people in 21st-century America are likely to be as eager to express their affection for wetlands as Annie Proulx. “I personally find wetlands intensely interesting,” she said, in an interview via email.


A Florida Case Study / The Florida Wildlife Corridor

Attempting to Protect and Sustain the Environment Amid Rampant Development and Loss of Forest, Habitat, Wetlands and Wildlife

Florida Wildlife Corridor FLWC Water Benefits December 2022.png

File:Florida Wildlife Corridor FLWC Report.pdf


Global Wetlands Outlook (2021)

Wetlands are being lost at alarming rates.

With 35% loss globally since 1970, wetlands are our most threatened ecosystem, disappearing three times faster than forests.

Land-use change is the biggest driver of degradation to inland wetlands since 1970. Agriculture, the most wide-spread form of land-use change, has damaged more than half of Wetlands of International Importance.

Climate impacts to wetlands are happening faster than anticipated. Rising sea-levels, coral bleaching and changing hydrology are all accelerating, with arctic and montane wetlands most at risk of degradation and loss.


US Supreme Court to Rule on Wetlands Definition and Protections in Clean Water Act

October 2022

Update February 2022

The US Clean Water Act is in the news. The Act was first passed in 1972 as part of foundational environmental law at the beginning of the modern environmental movement...

"Waters of the United States" ... meaning wetlands and associated waterways. Once again, it is time for lawyers, litigation legal definitions as US Environmental Protection Agency water protection rules and regulations are being challenged... Republican Attorneys General are opposing the EPA's water protections...

Florida boasts more wetlands than any state except Alaska. It also has a greater diversity: mangrove forests where shrimp and fish spawn, freshwater marshes that feed migrating ducks, cypress domes offering a refuge for wading birds.... To developers, though, they’re still just an obstacle to be overcome on the way to the bank.-- Craig Pittman

“The (Florida Attorney General's) lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money and only underscores that the state is not serious about providing clean water for its citizens.” ... the “EPA’s new regulation is a reasonable interpretation of the statutory term ‘waters of the United States' (and) "a great improvement” over the lax regulations that the Trump administration put forward that were, Gardner says, “an abdication of EPA’s Clean Water Act responsibilities.” — Royal Gardner of Stetson Law School' speaking of the legal challenge to federal regulation intended to preserve wetlands

Fifty years after the Clean Water Act's passage, in 2022, here we are waiting for another ruling from a much different US Supreme Court.

December 30, 2022

February 2023

Supreme Court to rule on wetlands protection case

Env policy laws US 'the beginning' of env era.jpg

2012 / 40 years after the Clean Water Act's adoption by the US Congress:

The Clean Water Act (is) one of the most remarkable, far-reaching and contentious laws ever enacted by Congress -- and, as we detail in "Paving Paradise," one that set a new standard for protecting wetlands -- Craig Pittman

Environmental Protection Agency logo.png


Florida's Wetlands in Grave Danger: "Paving Paradise"

In an award-winning newspaper series, two investigative reporters from the St. Petersburg Times chronicled how federal rules meant to protect the nation's wetlands were more illusion than law. Now, that series has been expanded into a book, delving into how we got to this point, starting with land speculators making waterfront property out of sand dredged from the bottom of the ocean. Now, read how the nation's wetlands protections were formed in clashes between developers, bureaucrats, judges, activists and con artists over Florida swamps.

Published by the University Press of Florida / 2009

U.S. -- A Case Study of How One State, Florida, Represents the Failures of Environmental Protection Writ Large

This is an exhaustive, timely and devastating account of the destruction of Florida's wetlands, and the disgraceful collusion of government at all levels. It's an important book that should be read by every voter, every taxpayer, every parent, every Floridian who cares about saving what's left of this precious place.” -- Carl Hiaasen

"Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite pulled the lid off federal and state wetlands regulation in Florida and peered deep into the cauldron of 'mitigation,' 'no net loss,' 'banking,' and the rest of the regulatory stew. For anyone interested in wetlands generally, and in Florida environmental issues in particular, this is an eye-opening, must-read book."--J. B. Ruhl

Since 1990, every president has pledged to protect wetlands, and Florida possesses more than any state except Alaska. And yet, since that time Florida has lost more than 84,000 acres of wetlands that help replenish the water supply and protect against flooding.

How and why the state’s wetlands are continuing to disappear is the subject of Paving Paradise. Journalists Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite spent nearly four years investigating the political expedience, corruption, and negligence on the part of federal and state agencies that led to a failure to enforce regulations on developers. They traveled throughout the state, interviewed hundreds of people, dug through thousands of documents, and analyzed satellite imagery to identify former wetlands that were now houses, stores, and parking lots.

The result was an award-winning series, "Vanishing Wetlands," of more than twenty stories in the St. Petersburg Times, exposing the unseen environmental consequences of rampant sprawl. Expanding their work into book form in the tradition of Michael Grunwald's The Swamp, Pittman and Waite explain how wetland protection has become a taxpayer-funded program that creates the illusion of environmental protection while doing little to stem the tide of destruction.

"Vanishing Wetlands" / St. Petersburg Times

Statistics gathered by the Times investigative series, "Vanishing Wetlands," documents that legally responsible regulators, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers rejected only one of the more than 12,000 applications to destroy Florida wetlands between 1999 and 2003..

Destruction of wetlands in Florida has a history. Developers of housing have, for decades, paved over low-lying coastal areas, marshes, bays, vulnerable-to-flooding regions. The results of extreme over development and high risk land use are now becoming evident. Climate change is multiplying the threats and extreme weather events are increasingly delivering billions of dollars in damages. The loss of wetlands to development goes far beyond the lowlands of states like Florida. Flooding is becoming more common throughout regional watersheds.

The costs are adding up. Damages, flooding, pollution, aquifer loss, biodiversity loss, insurance crisis, the list goes on and on.

Look to the lessons and warnings of the USGS for connections between development, risks and costs:

Impervious Surfaces and Flooding


It began with a tip about a report from the National Academy of Sciences titled "Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act." A real page turner.

Craig Pittman, who had been covering environment issues for The St. Petersburg Times for five years, was blown away by the document's indictment of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. He figured it was time to cover the statewide picture, not just report one loss at a time as wetlands disappeared.

When he checked the Corps' website, he discovered that more wetland destruction permits were being issued in Florida than in any other state and Florida had lost more wetlands than any other state.Thousands of acres had been bartered off to developers, never mind that yards in the new subdivisions could sprout cypress trees and float septic tanks.

A national policy of "no net loss" had been established in 1989. Clearly, the policy was in shambles. Wetlands in Florida were being converted to concrete jungle. More homes for people rather than alligators or panthers, more stores, more parking lots and more roads leading to more of the above. The Corps' mission: development enablers.

Although the Corps uses Geographic Information Systems to pinpoint wetlands, it didn't take long for Pittman to discover that the data were unreliable. His search for a GIS guru led to Matt Waite, a metro G.A. from one of the Times' bureaus assigned to computer-assisted reporting. The two teamed up to learn the technology and to begin the tussle for federal agency data.

Since the Corps' data were less than useful, Waite came up with a way to go after the story using satellite-imagery analysis. He had to take a couple of courses in remote sensing at the local university just to understand how to compute the number of acres lost. It took nearly a year to analyze where paradise had been paved.

The duo's investigative report ran May 22-23, 2005. Additional stories followed. Pittman and Waite won SEJ's top reporting awards in 2006 and 2007 for their exposé of the illusion of wetlands protection. The expanded book-length tale, 17 chapters with two appendices explaining the authors' complex methodology and a useful list of remote sensing sources, could have been called: "Tides of Destruction," "They Couldn't Say No," "A Landscape of Greed, Lies and Incompetence" or maybe "Swamped by Sprawl..."

Craig Pittman speaks at Stetson Law School

Award-winning St. Petersburg Times journalist Craig Pittman presented the Summer 2009 Biodiversity Lecture on June 22 at Stetson’s Tampa Law Center.


Florida at crossroads-Turning the Toxic Tide.png

GreenPolicy360: Using the earth observation capabilities that are now becoming widely available, Craig Pittman discusses how satellite imagery was used to study Florida’s wetlands. The database of satellite 'before and after' digital scanning imaging documents profound changes and losses to wetlands, with resulting losses to wildlife, biodiversity, and natural eco-systems. The damage is generational as the consequences range from more vulnerable coastline/shorelines as extreme weather events/hurricanes surge inland with new destructive force as nature's resilient-to-surge flooding barriers are removed. The role of wetlands in cleaning fresh water, throughout Florida, as wetlands recharge aquifers is being lost. Wetlands are interconnected to environmental health in immeasurable ways that science is realizing. Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite reveal the deep threat Florida, and Florida politics, faces and must deal with now before losses become irreversible. One way to protect wetlands is through what we, GreenPolicy360, call a "Living Coastline" ...

Supreme Court gets a chance on another wetlands case

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Wetlands and related terms:

A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica, the largest including the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, and the Pantanal in South America. The water found in wetlands can be freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. The main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens; and sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth.

Estuary, Living Systems with an Integral Connection to Sustainable Environments

The word "estuary" is derived from the Latin word aestuarium meaning tidal inlet of the sea, which in itself is derived from the term aestus, meaning tide. There have been many definitions proposed to describe an estuary. The most widely accepted definition is: "a semi-enclosed coastal body of water, which has a free connection with the open sea, and within sea water is measurably diluted with freshwater derived from land drainage". However, this definition excludes a number of coastal water bodies such as coastal lagoons and brackish seas. A more comprehensive definition of an estuary is "a semi-enclosed body of water connected to the sea as far as the tidal limit or the salt intrusion limit and receiving freshwater runoff; however the freshwater inflow may not be perennial, the connection to the sea may be closed for part of the year and tidal influence may be negligible". This broad definition also includes fjords, lagoons, river mouths, and tidal creeks. An estuary is a dynamic ecosystem with a connection with the open sea through which the sea water enters with the rhythm of the tides. The sea water entering the estuary is diluted by the fresh water flowing from rivers and streams. The pattern of dilution varies between different estuaries and depends on the volume of fresh water, the tidal range, and the extent of evaporation of the water in the estuary.

Phytoplankton are key primary producers in estuaries.

Of the thirty-two largest cities in the world, twenty-two are located on estuaries. For example, New York City is located at the mouth of the Hudson River estuary.

As ecosystems, estuaries are under threat from human activities such as pollution and overfishing. They are also threatened by sewage, coastal settlement, land clearance and much more. Estuaries are affected by events far upstream, and concentrate materials such as pollutants and sediments. Land run-off and industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste enter rivers and are discharged into estuaries. Contaminants can be introduced which do not disintegrate rapidly in the marine environment, such as plastics, pesticides, furans, dioxins, phenols and heavy metals.Such toxins can accumulate in the tissues of many species of aquatic life in a process called bioaccumulation. They also accumulate in benthic environments, such as estuaries and bay muds: a geological record of human activities of the last century.

Industrial pollution, such as phenols and heavy metals, has devastated fish stocks around the world...

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Wetland defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency

Wetlands are part of the foundation of our nation's water resources and are vital to the health of waterways and communities that are downstream. Wetlands feed downstream waters, trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Wetlands are also economic drivers because of their key role in fishing, hunting, agriculture and recreation.

Wetlands include swamps, marshes and bogs. Wetlands vary widely because of differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, and other factors.

Wetlands are often found alongside waterways and in flood plains. However, some wetlands have no apparent connection to surface water like rivers, lakes or the ocean, but have critical groundwater connections.

Living Earth.png

Because many species of fish and wildlife rely on the sheltered waters of estuaries as protected spawning places, estuaries are often called the "nurseries of the sea." -- EPA

(GreenPolicy360: In other words, the loss of estuaries, and coastal waterways/wetlands/tidal inlets, brings on a cascading effect as generations of life are interrupted in their life cycles. The result is a compounded loss rippling through species... as the nursery, the incubator, the needed habitat no longer exists. And when the estuaries and coastal wetlands go away, the fisheries go away, the shorebirds and migrating birds go away, the tidal riches that feed and maintain sea life go away.

The destruction of species is a loss with immense consequences...)

All Species Day

EPA: Estuaries and the lands surrounding them are places of transition from land to sea and freshwater to salt water. Although influenced by the tides, they are protected from the full force of ocean waves, winds, and storms by such land forms as barrier islands or peninsulas.

Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating more organic matter each year than comparably-sized areas of forest, grassland, or agricultural land.

The tidal, sheltered waters of estuaries also support unique communities of plants and animals especially adapted for life at the margin of the sea.

Many different habitat types are found in and around estuaries, including shallow open waters, freshwater and salt marshes, swamps, sandy beaches, mud and sand flats, rocky shores, oyster reefs, mangrove forests, river deltas, tidal pools, and seagrasses.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Marine and Coastal Zone wetlands
Marine waters—permanent shallow waters less than six metres deep at low tide; includes sea bays, straits
Subtidal aquatic beds; includes kelp beds, seagrasses, tropical marine meadows
Coral reefs
Rocky marine shores; includes rocky offshore islands, sea cliffs
Sand, shingle or pebble beaches; includes sand bars, spits, sandy islets
Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats
Intertidal marshes; includes saltmarshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes, tidal brackish and freshwater marshes
Intertidal forested wetlands; includes mangrove swamps, nipa swamps, tidal freshwater swamp forests
Brackish to saline lagoons and marshes with one or more relatively narrow connections with the sea
Freshwater lagoons and marshes in the coastal zone
Non-tidal freshwater forested wetlands
Inland wetlands
Permanent rivers and streams; includes waterfalls
Seasonal and irregular rivers and streams
Inland deltas (permanent)
Riverine floodplains; includes river flats, flooded river basins, seasonally flooded grassland, savanna and palm savanna
Permanent freshwater lakes (> 8 ha); includes large oxbow lakes
Seasonal/intermittent freshwater lakes (> 8 ha), floodplain lakes
Permanent saline/brackish lakes
Seasonal/intermittent saline lakes
Permanent freshwater ponds (< 8 ha), marshes and swamps on inorganic soils; with emergent vegetation waterlogged for at least most of the growing season
Seasonal/intermittent freshwater ponds and marshes on inorganic soils; includes sloughs, potholes; seasonally flooded meadows, sedge marshes
Permanent saline/brackish marshes
Seasonal saline marshes
Shrub swamps; shrub-dominated freshwater marsh, shrub carr, alder thicket on inorganic soils
Freshwater swamp forest; seasonally flooded forest, wooded swamps; on inorganic soils
Peatlands; forest, shrub or open bogs
Alpine and tundra wetlands; includes alpine meadows, tundra pools, temporary waters from snow melt
Freshwater springs, oases and rock pools
Geothermal wetlands
Inland, subterranean karst wetlands
Human-made wetlands
Water storage areas; reservoirs, barrages, hydro-electric dams, impoundments (generally > 8 ha)
Ponds, including farm ponds, stock ponds, small tanks (generally < 8 ha)
Aquaculture ponds; fish ponds, shrimp ponds
Salt exploitation; salt pans, salines
Excavations; gravel pits, borrow pits, mining pools
Wastewater treatment; sewage farms, settling ponds, oxidation basins
Irrigated land and irrigation channels; rice fields, canals, ditches
Seasonally flooded arable land, farm land

The terms “coastline” and “shoreline” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. The coastline of a place is defined as the boundary between the coast and the shore. In other words, a coastline is a big-picture view of the approximate line between the land and the sea. A shoreline is an ever-changing line that marks the specific place where the water and shore meet...

Coastal Intercoastal Wetlands.jpg

Ten thousand islands -- Marco island.jpg


This category has the following 7 subcategories, out of 7 total.






Media in category "Wetlands"

The following 103 files are in this category, out of 103 total.