Monitoring is a critical component of all wetland restoration projects. Without it, there is no way to objectively evaluate the progress of a site under restoration. A project monitoring program measures and documents the changes that occur at a site over time in response to restoration treatments. This information is used to assess the progression of site conditions toward pre-defined goals and, if necessary, to develop and implement post-treatment corrections.
Monitoring allows partners to assess the restoration trajectory of a marsh by comparing data collected from the project site to baseline conditions. This comparison tracks changing wetland conditions and helps demonstrate the achievement of restoration goals. It also provides valuable information to interested parties and can help refine techniques that improve future restoration efforts.
There are four primary controlling factors for restoring wetland health: hydrology (extent and duration of flooding/saturation), water quality, and the characteristics of soil and vegetation. Monitoring programs can use simple measures as indicators for each of these factors. Project sites are monitored prior to construction and for several years after construction. Once enough data are collected, comparisons can be made between pre- and post-construction site conditions.