Stretching from the historic Chesapeake Bay, along the coastline of the Atlantic; across the Gulf into the mysterious bayou swamps of Louisiana; to eastern Texas
and up the Mississippi, wetland forests are a valuable, yet vulnerable national
treasure. Up to 80% of wetland forests in the South have disappeared.
35 million acres of wetland forests (an area the size of New York) provide valuable ecosystem services for people living in the U.S. South, including:
Protection from extreme weather events
Recreation, tourism, and aesthetics
Water filtration and waste treatment
Food and pollination
Regulating services, including regional climate regulation
Raw materials, like timber
How Much Are Wetland Forests Worth?
Wetland forest ecosystem services are worth more than $500 billion. But wetland
forests are under threat from logging and development. If we protected an
additional 13 million acres of wetland forests and logged in a more ecologically
friendly way, we could increase their ecosystem service value to almost $550 billion.
Standing southern wetland forests are worth over
25% Recreation, tourism, and aesthetics
22.9% Water filtration and waste management
0.3% Raw materials
14.4% Food and pollination
7.4% Regulating services
29.9% Protection from extreme events
Logging Wetland Forests Is A Waste
The ecosystem service value of an intensively manage wetland forest is just
$1,200 per acre. But wetland forests left alone are worth over $18,600 per acre. By
shifting the focus of management from timber production to native ecosystem
health, wetland forests increase in value over fifteen times.
Wetland Forests Reduce The Impacts Of Natural Disasters
Each year, hurricanes ravage the U.S. South. By the time recovery efforts are
complete for 2017’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma, each are expected to cost over
$100 billion in damages. Luckily, scientists have found that wetland forests quickly
absorb and slow more water than pavement or lawns during floods.
Southern wetland forests are some of the most carbon rich ecosystems in the
U.S.. Without this carbon storage, the impacts of climate change would be even
more severe. Wetland forests also improve regional climate, because forests
maintain a cooler temperature than non-forested landscapes.
Wetland Forests Cool The Region
The cost of 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma alone:
Wetland Forests Support Native Species
Fewer than 10% of wetland forests in the U.S. South are currently protected from
logging, agriculture, and development. Wetland forests house many rare species,
including the Louisiana black bear, hellbenders, and swallow-tailed kites. Some of
the region was even designated a global biodiversity hotspot in 2016.
Wetland-dependent vertebrates locally extirpated
between 2002 and 2011 in parts of the US South
Dusky gopher frog Extirpated from Alabama and Lousiana
American coot Extirpated from South Carolina
Northern myotis Extirpated from Mississippi
American bittern Extirpated from Kentucky
Wood stork Extirpated from Texas
Indiana Myotis Extirpated from Kentucky
Swallow-tailed kite Extirpated from Oklahoma
Glossy ibis Extirpated from Arkansas and South Carolina
American black duck Extirpated from Florida
River frog Extirpated from North Carolina
White-faced ibis Extirpated from Alabama
Wetland Forests: Where People Go To Play
In 2011, 25 million people in the U.S. South went out to observe nature and
wildlife. Fifteen million people hunted or fished. These activities contributed $48
billion to the states’ economies. Wetland forests are an important ecosystem for
hunters, fishers, boaters, and photographers to enjoy the outdoors.
The forest products industry is sensitive to booms and busts of the global
economy. In just five years (2004-2009), the South lost 20% of forest product
industry jobs, mostly due to automation. As the industry continues to decline,
states could redirect those skilled workers to restoration, management, and
Wetland Forests Are Part Of The Restoration Economy
25 Million People in U.S.
Southern Wetand Forests On The Global Stage
The U.S. South is among the most biodiverse areas on the planet. This immense
biodiversity brings international visitors to our national parks. With dedicated
conservation efforts, Southern wetland forests have the potential to draw more
visitors and improve the economy.
Standing forests are the only proven terrestrial system that can store vast
amounts of carbon at the scale necessary to keep global temperature rise below
1.5 oC. Protecting wetland forests ensures that carbon remains safely stored in the
forest while removing more from the atmosphere each year.
Get involved today to help protect these valuable wetland forests.