In the paper, the authors reiterate the strong contribution wetlands make in terms of ecosystem services. Our mangroves and saltmarsh ecosystems provide raw materials and food, coastal protection, erosion control, water purification, maintenance of fisheries, carbon sequestration, and tourism, recreation, education and research. A recent study by Contanza (2014) has valued the ecosystem services of tidal marshes and mangroves to be in the vicinity of $194,000.00 per hectare per year on a global scale.
Despite mounting evidence of the services provided by coastal wetlands and the economic benefits that accrue from maintaining them in good ecological condition, saline coastal wetlands continue to be degraded, or worse, lost completely, across the globe (Polidori et al, 2010). In Australia, 40% of New South Wales estuaries were found to be ‘extensively modified’ and less than 10% were in ‘near pristine’ condition (Tate et al, 2001).
Staff at the Queensland Herbarium has been mapping the Moreton Bay and South East Queensland Region including 54535 hectares of coastal habitat. In terms of saltmarsh there has been a 64% loss in area since the 1950’s. The major sources of loss include the airport, ports and infrastructure. It’s no wonder the Federal Government have listed subtropical saltmarsh as a vulnerable.
The authors advised that due to better governance and community awareness on the values of mangrove and saltmarsh systems there has been some modifications in policies and practice in order to manage the threats to them. However, even today there continues to be threats to these valuable ecosystems. The most significant anthropogenic process contributing to the loss of saline coastal wetlands continues to be land reclamation and drainage for development of urban and industrial estates and assets.
In more recent times sea-level rise through climate change is now a major issue and the authors have reviewed a number of adaptive practices to ensure our saline wetlands survive and continue to provide the ecosystem services we require of them. The authors present a number of strategies which can ensure the survival of these systems even with sea level rise.
However, due to sea level rise and continuing pressures on these wetlands there is a degree of urgency in addressing the threats posed to these systems. Any delays in implementing strategies for adaptation to climate change will increase significantly the costs to the community and reduce the ecosystem benefits including coastal protection and erosion control. The time for management agencies to act is now.
Kerrylee Rogers a,n, Paul I. Boon b, Simon Branigan c, Norman C. Duke d, Colin D. Field e, James A. Fitzsimons c,f, Hugh Kirkman g, Jock R. Mackenzie d, Neil Saintilan h
In Marine Policy (72) 2016 139 – 155
Changes in the global value of ecosystem services
R. Costanza, R.deGroot, P.Sutton, S.vanderPloeg, S.J.Anderson, I. Kubiszewski, et al.,,
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The loss of species: Mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern
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Auditing the health of Australia’s ecosystems
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