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Wetlands Assessment Project Documents Outcomes of Conservation on Working Lands

Former cropped wetland restored to a wetland by the Southeastern Wetland Reserve Program. Joel Gramling, The CitadelSnapshot : Assessment offers managers a tool to improve project planning and assessment of wetland practices on working lands in the South and elsewhere

Principal Investigators(s) :
De Steven, Diane 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 130


The Conservation Effects Assessment Project, or CEAP, is a national effort to quantify and report the environmental effectiveness of Farm Bill conservation programs. The findings support CEAP national assessment goals and can assist in improving project planning and delivery of wetland ecosystem services on Southern working lands.

Led by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, CEAP supports research and assessments of document outcomes from conservation practices applied to working lands through Farm Bill programs. The CEAP-Wetlands component evaluates practices that restore or enhance wetland ecosystem services—such as water-quality improvement, carbon storage, and wildlife habitat.

To address information gaps identified previously by the CEAP, Forest Service scientist, Diane De Steven, led a collaborative CEAP study using hydrogeomorphic analysis of wetland types plus rapid field surveys to assess Southeastern restoration projects that have been implemented under the Wetlands Reserve Program. Analysis of more than 100 projects spanning a 12-year period revealed that the program has encompassed diverse wetland types and prerestoration habitat conditions.

Most projects demonstrated evidence of providing functional wetland habitat at local scales. Some restoration practices favored original hydrodynamic functions, while others resulted in trade-offs that reduced some wetland services to enhance others. One innovative program use addressed restoration of natural hydrology function on degraded timber-harvested floodplains, with landscape-scale benefits for floodwater storage, water quality, and forest habitat. This innovative approach has potential for wider application across the region.

By identifying ecological trade-offs and causes of unsuccessful outcomes, hydrogeomorphic analysis offers managers a tool for improving project planning and assessment of wetland practices on working lands.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • The Citadel
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service