Story by Stacia Pelletier | Contact: Matt Bilskie
New interdisciplinary pilot program explores funding salt marsh preservation and recovery
How much is a salt marsh worth? That’s one of the questions the University of Georgia and The Nature Conservancy will try to answer as they launch a pilot study funded by Georgia Sea Grant to determine the socioeconomic value of salt marsh ecosystems in Georgia.
Experts estimate that 70 percent of all salt marshes have already been lost across the eastern seaboard, largely due to human development. Sea level rise from climate change also threatens their continued existence.
“These marshes are among the most well-preserved and extensive natural coastal networks in the nation, playing an indispensable role within human communities and for wildlife,” said Matthew Bilskie, an assistant professor in the School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering at UGA’s College of Engineering. “Who stands to benefit from insuring such natural infrastructure so that if the marshes suffer damage, they can be restored? And who should pay for this insurance?”
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