Breath of Clarity

Comment #1: Wetland Management, Laws and Restoration

Original Post by Hannah Claycomb:

1. To effectively argue one side of an issue, one must be familiar with the other side so…. You are a developer who has owned a freshwater marsh wetland for some time and would like to develop the land. Use the regulations and information in the textbook to convince the federal agencies that it is a good idea to develop the land.

First to convince federal agencies that it would be a good idea to develop the freshwater marsh, I will need to obtain a Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act. This permit allows for the filling or dredging in the “waters of the United States” (Mitsch and Gosselink 2015, 507). To obtain this permit, I will have to consider one of the three approaches when developing the land: taking steps to avoid wetland impacts where practicable (avoidance), minimizing the impacts of the wetlands (minimization), and mitigating unavoidable impacts through the restoration or creation of the wetland (mitigation) (Mitsch and Gosselink 2015, 508). I will also need to provide the agencies the benefits of developing the land versus the benefits the freshwater marsh provides; this step seems like the most difficult. Providing the boundaries of the wetland and the area that I plan to develop is necessary as well.

I plan to only develop part of the wetland. With the minimization approach mentioned above, I will only be developing a certain amount of acres, leaving the rest of the wetland untouched. Through quantitative analysis, I can determine the most important areas of the wetland that support the most vital life and habitats. This will mitigate the impact on the freshwater wetland. With my development plan, my goal is to incorporate renewable energy and green building techniques, decreasing the amount of pollutants that would be discharged into the nearby wetland. With this cyclical approach to development, impacts will be minimized and economic gain can be accomplished. With more people visiting the development, they will also have the opportunity to witness the vast life and functions wetlands provide. I also plan to present a list of social, economic, and environmental benefits that this development will entail along with its drawbacks.

2. Choose a Ramsar site and share with the class why it is of international importance … do not just give a website.

The Ramsar Convention was adopted in Iran in 1971 on the international cooperation of wetland conservation (Mitsch and Gosselink 2015, 521). The goal of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional, and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution toward achieving sustainable development throughout the world (Mitsch and Gosselink 2015, 521)”. Ramsar has done a fantastic job at bringing attention to wetland conservation. Currently, there are 2,400 Ramsar sites around the world, covering over 2.5 million square kilometres (Ramsar 2021). Upon looking at the Ramsar sites, I chose to cover Rio Negro in Brazil.

The Rio Negro in Brazil is the largest tributary river on the north side of the Amazon basin (Ramsar 2018). The Rio Negro is the largest blackwater river in the world, over 1,500 kilometres long. This specific Ramsar site, adopted on March 19, 2018, is massive, measuring 12,001,614.4 ha of area. Within the site are numerous wetlandssuch as Igapó (blackwater-flooded) forests, edaphic savannas and fluvial archipelagos, and comprises more than 20 conservation units (Ramsar 2018). These wetlands support a number of threatened species such as the ash-breasted antbird, the Brazil nut, the Brazilian bare-faced tamarin, the giant river otter, and the white-bellied spider monkey (Ramsar 2018). Due to its proximity to the Amazon basin, the Rio Negro area greatly contributes to climate regulation. This Ramsar site contributes to water purification and provides freshwater to six different Brazilian municipalities. This Ramsar site is important in so many ways, with its ability to purify/filter water, support threatened species, mitigate climate change, and protect numerous wetlands over such a large area. Below is a really cool picture where the Rio Negro Meets the Amazon ( (Links to an external site.)).

3. What wetland ecosystem are you researching for your final? And if you are studying a specific wetland as an example, what wetland is that?

I reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as you could guess, there are not many wetlands around my area. Growing up in central PA, I was surrounded by small, freshwater marshes and some wet meadows. I decided I wanted to research freshwater wetlands and learn more about the life and ecosystems they sustain. I also wanted to learn more about wetlands that I am not familiar with. So, I decided to do my final on the Pantanal wetland in south-central Brazil, the largest freshwater wetland in the world.

This wetland interests me because of its vast size and the unique wildlife it supports. The Pantanal is a seasonal floodplain with its wet season in the summer and dry season in the winter. It is estimated to be 68,000 square miles in size (Nature Conservancy 2021). I am also eager to research its functions and ecosystem services/values. I imagine it is a very productive wetland and contributes environmental benefits to surrounding ecosystems. I am excited to learn more about this specific wetland.

Mitsch, William J., and James G. Gosselink. 2015. Wetlands. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Nature Conservancy. 2021. Pantanal.’s%20largest%20freshwater%20wetland%2C%20a%20seasonally,the%20world’s%20most%20productive%20habitats.

Ramsar. 2018. “Rio Negro.” Ramsar Sites Information Service.


My Comment:

Hi Hannah (Question 2),

Great overview of the Rio Negro. Given its large size, measuring 12,001,614.4 ha of area, I wonder whether certain sites receive priority over others. The Ramsar site designation reminds me of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in that I am curious about which factors would place priority of some sites over others. It is crucial as there are a limited amount of resources available for wetland restoration projects just as there is little funding for the ESA relative to the amount of work that needs to be done. Additionally, interesting point that, due to its location, the Rio Negro significantly contributes to climate regulation. Awesome photo of where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon- the line between the two is so defined! Also, I figure that its role as a freshwater supplier to cities would result it being a high priority to manage, and therefore resources would be directed towards protecting the area.