Coastal wetlands are unique, valuable, and highly productive ecosystems that provide vital habitat and refuge for fish, shellfish, and wildlife. These wetlands also perform important physical and chemical functions, such as stabilizing the shoreline, filtering and trapping sediment and contaminants from stormwater runoff, and producing plant matter that serves as an energy source in the larger coastal and marine environment. The legacy of urban development and human activities in coastal areas has resulted in the direct loss and alteration of a significant portion of wetlands in the United States. While this direct destruction has been dramatically curtailed with regulatory protection, adverse effects from indirect sources—such as contamination from stormwater runoff, oil and other toxic spills, and subsurface water withdrawal—continue to degrade wetlands.
This website provides an overview of the efforts of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) to monitor coastal wetlands and assess their environmental health, along with additional background information. It includes the following sections:
- CZM Goals for Coastal Wetlands Assessment and Monitoring
- Rapid Assessment Method for Evaluating Coastal Wetland Health
- Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System for Wetlands
- CZM Wetland Assessment Projects (1995-2004)
- Massachusetts Wetlands: Types, Ecology and Functions, and Loss and Degradation
- Related State Programs