Site Selection Optimization for Wetlands Preservation
Abstract: Wetlands are an incredibly fragile ecosystem type that are deteriorating faster than any other ecosystem globally (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Program) 2005). Yet wetlands provide services that otherwise would cost humans an estimated $4.8 trillion such as stormwater management and water filtration (van Rees and Reed 2015). Recognizing threats and a need for further protection, in ... read more2008 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers promulgated regulations to clarify compensatory mitigation requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which led to the establishment of an In-Lieu Fee Program nationally. With this mechanism in place in Massachusetts to help off-set wetland impacts, decision makers must now determine where to allocate funds received from projects impacting wetland resource areas. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a flexible, data-driven GIS tool that the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) can utilize to help prioritize wetland areas for land acquisition. The first section of this document provides a review of factors that affect wetland characteristics, persisting threats to wetlands, and the regulatory mechanisms designed for their protection. Next follows a description of the stakeholder engagement used to identify pertinent datasets within Massachusetts to help optimize wetlands preservation site selection. The final sections of this document describe the construction and testing of a GIS-based model that stakeholders can use to prioritize parcels for land protection under the Massachusetts ILF, or explore critical linkages between protected lands. Continued collaboration, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement complement and perpetuate a framework for sustainable wetlands mitigation projects.
Thesis (M.S.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisors: James Limbrunner, and Sumeeta Srinivasan.
Committee: Alex Hackman.
Keywords: Water resources management, Environmental management, and Environmental engineering.read less