RESTORING A DEGRADED COASTAL WETLAND IN THE CITY OF CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO: A CASE STUDY
Free (open access)
235 - 246
JAVIER VÉLEZ AROCHO, JORGE COLL RIVERA, EDGAR O. VÁZQUEZ PLASS, GABRIEL RODRÍGUEZ ROJAS, ALEJANDRO RODRÍGUEZ ROJAS
A wetland restoration project was proposed in the City of Carolina, Puerto Rico as a compensatory measure for the environmental impacts associated with the construction of the Children Museum that resulted in the filling of 3 acres of coastal wetlands. Restoring marginal coastal lands into a productive wetland area involves returning the selected area to its original state or to improve existing conditions to support new populations of plants and organisms. This approach required the conversion of uplands and shallow, intermittently submerged lands into forested wetlands. Applying the desired techniques was challenging as many of the available literature is focused on creating herbaceous wetlands. The restoration and mitigation activities involved the establishment of appropriate natural hydrologic conditions followed by the reestablishment of the plant community. To reduce potential failure of the functionality of the restoration parcel, the design involved measures to improve the hydrology, and the concept of self-design in which native mangrove propagules and seeds were reintroduced in the ecosystem to reestablish these plants populations. An open water channel was designed and constructed to allow tidal flow of water into the restored area. The design also included the use of specific native trees and plant species with higher colonization success in wetland conditions. An 85% survival rate was established in order to consider the proposed project as a successful one. Also, variables including tree growth, and use of the restored habitat by wildlife have been recorded over a 4-year period in order to analyze the results of the mitigation project. Impacts from weather conditions including droughts and hurricanes were also recorded to assess success overtime.
wetlands restoration, ecosystems management, coastal natural resources, Puerto Rico