Wetland Restoration

Humans have caused much damage to wetlands over the past thousand years, and the effects have increased as human populations and technological power have grown. We have seen some examples of damage in the preceding section. In response to such past abuses, humans have also begun consciously re-creating wetlands. There are a growing number of efforts to create new wetlands and enhance existing wetlands. Along both the Rhine River and the Mississippi River, some levees have been breached, allowing floodwater to return and marshes to recover. Depressions left by mining, or deliberately constructed for wetlands, can be flooded to recreate small marshes in highly developed landscapes. Construction of dams and roads has been more carefully regulated.

The future of marshes will likely depend upon two human activities: our success at protecting existing marshes from damage and our success at restoring marshes that have already been damaged. The list of the world's largest wetlands in Table 1 provides an important set of targets for global conservation.

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