Date of Award

11-2015

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Program Name

Environmental Policy and Management

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Molly Whitworth

Abstract

Climate change and land use patterns in coastal regions can have a significant impact on adjoining ecosystems, such as coastal wetlands, and the selection of restoration strategies used to restore a degraded system is likewise influenced by these factors. Determining how climate change and surrounding land use impacts coastal wetland restoration decisions was investigated in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States using three case studies which exhibited different surrounding land use patterns: urban, commercial agricultural production, and recreational. The study addresses the following: the impacts surrounding land use practices have on adjacent coastal wetland systems; the relationship between surrounding land use patterns and selected coastal wetland restoration strategies; the types of restoration strategies that can be applied to account for climate change impacts, based on surrounding land use patterns; and whether or not current wetland restoration techniques exhibit long-term effectiveness considering climate change impacts. Study findings highlight how surrounding land use patterns influenced the selection of coastal wetland restoration strategies and the ability of a wetland system to account for climate change impacts. Recommendations related to localized approaches, landscape-level approaches, and targeted adaptation measures are discussed in an effort to provide guidance to natural resource managers and urban planners.

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