Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrasses provide important ecosystem services, including nursery habitat for fish, shoreline protection, and the recently recognized service of carbon sequestration and storage. When these wetland ecosystems are degraded or destroyed, the carbon can be released to the atmosphere, where it adds to the concentration of greenhouses gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change. Yet, no federal statute, regulation, or policy accounts directly for the carbon held in coastal habitats. This article, featured in the journal Coastal Management, identifies key steps for the inclusion of the ecosystem services of coastal habitats into the implementation of existing federal policies without statutory changes; doing so would increase the degree to which these policies consider the full economic and ecological impacts of policy actions.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions