Messages to our Constituency
The Wetlands Institute is a science-based organization with a mission to preserve, protect, and steward our wetlands and coastal ecosystems. Periodically, questions arise on various topics of concern to our constituency. As a thought-leader and noted resource for those individuals looking for research-grounded perspectives, we use this space to post information on our views to better help our community.
As we celebrate Earth Day, it is a great time for reflection. Thank you for your interest in understanding the potential impacts of wind energy on wildlife and our coastal communities. We share your concerns, and while The Wetlands Institute does not conduct research on renewable energy, our teams work every day to understand marsh and coastal ecosystem response to climate change and the impact this has on the wildlife within them. We also understand the value of sharing our scientifically based position with our constituents.
Our work has shown that climate change represents the most significant threat to marshes and coastal ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them. The threats posed by accelerated sea level rise are readily apparent. Sea level rise is real and accelerating, and its effects are obvious: flooded roadways along the coast are the norm rather than the exception; “nuisance” or “sunny day” flooding is a regular occurrence and increasing; tidal marshes are inundated more frequently and to greater depths than ever before. The increasing frequency and intensity of coastal storms is adding even more stress to these ecosystems and our coastal communities.
Tidal marshes support more than 75 percent of the commercial fish and shellfish caught in this country (for recreational fishing, the percentage jumps to 90%) and up to half of North America’s bird species. They are one of Earth’s most productive ecosystems, second only to tropical rainforests in the level of biodiversity they host. They sequester carbon at very high rates. And they are at risk of drowning – and many acres have already been lost. The resilience of coastal ecosystems is being tested, and ours along with it.
Scientists both locally and all over the country work every day on innovative solutions to enhance the resiliency of our tidal marshes – to help our coastal communities and the myriad wildlife that depend on healthy marshes for survival. But the ability of these ecosystems to adapt to sea level rise is directly linked to our efforts to mitigate climate change. Without such mitigation, sea level rise is projected to outpace the ability of coastal ecosystems to adapt. We need substantial reduction in harmful climate pollution to have a chance at adaptation.
We are convinced that renewable energy must be at the core of the approaches we take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, and that responsibly developed offshore wind is a key tool that the federal government, New Jersey, and other coastal states have embraced to transition to green, renewable energy.
We recognize that all energy sources and development pose environmental risks. The catastrophic oil spills that occur in this country and around the world should serve as a stark reminder of this fact. Scientists, governments, industry experts, environmental groups, and independent researchers have studied the risks posed by offshore wind, and will continue to do so. At this point in time, the best research indicates that offshore wind represents a promising opportunity towards reduction in greenhouse gases for the long-term benefit of people and wildlife.
This is why The Wetlands Institute joins with a myriad of environmental organizations from around the world, the country, and the state of New Jersey in support of offshore wind. We will keep tracking the science and demand that research and monitoring continue to provide the best approaches to the development of renewable energy.
We will continue our work to restore and enhance wetlands so that they can thrive into the future, and we will continue to bring the best science to the conservation of marsh-dependent species. Preserving, protecting, and stewarding coastal and wetland ecosystems is our mission and we remain singularly focused on this work.
For more than 50 years, The Wetlands Institute has conducted important research, undertaken science-based and informed conservation measures, and used science as a basis for our education programs. All of us at The Wetlands Institute value science and understand the importance of science in informing environmental policy. As an organization, we will stand up in defense of science and defend the role of science in policy.
As we set off into the next 50 years of this organization, history will show that the political pendulum swings far in both directions. The Institute does well to stay the course and remain focused on our mission.
- We are doing meaningful and impactful research.
- We are informing the public and decision makers of our findings.
- We are training tomorrow’s scientists and environmental educators.
- We are educating the public about the importance of the environment for their health and well-being and for the health and well-being of their communities.
The Wetlands Institute is a place where all people will be respected without regard to their religion, race, gender, ethnicity, ability, age, immigration status, country of origin, or sexual orientation. We stand strong with our non-discrimination policy. We stand strong with our diversity and inclusion policies. We stand strong with our international visitors and scholars. We will work together to foster an environment in which every visitor, program participant, student, and scholar are welcome and can flourish.