This project is premised on the recognized need to assess the health of Great Lakes coastal wetlands, which are an integral part of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. Coastal wetlands have critically important ecological values and functions, yet there are currently few basinwide data available for assessing their ecological health. The Great Lakes Commission has convened the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium to expand the monitoring and reporting capabilities of the U.S. and Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
What is the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium?
The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium consists of scientific and policy experts drawn from key U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, state and provincial agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other interest groups with responsibility for coastal wetlands monitoring. Approximately two dozen agencies, organizations and institutions have been brought into the Consortium as Project Management Team members. This is an unprecedented assembly of coastal wetlands expertise. In addition, other members are brought in as small project teams are formed to address discrete project elements and pilot studies. The Consortium is coordinated by staff at the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has been funded by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago, Illinois.
What is the purpose of the Consortium?
The Consortium’s purpose is to design an implementable, long-term program to monitor Great Lakes coastal wetlands. This is being accomplished through the development of indicators to assess the condition of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. The selected indicators were selected through the State of the Lake Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) process. The Consortium will provide scientific support for this monitoring program; create a database that is publicly accessible; recruit the leadership required to implement the long-term monitoring program; and develop a network of funders and agencies who will support the Great Lakes coastal wetlands monitoring program.
The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Plan, completed in March 2008, represents nearly seven years of work by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium that has resulted in a long-term plan to monitor Great Lakes coastal wetlands using a scientifically validated sampling design and suite of indicators and metrics developed by many project partners. The project was coordinated by staff of the Great Lakes Commission and funded by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (Grant #GL-97547303). Partners included scientific and policy experts drawn from key U.S. and Canadian federal, state and provincial agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and members of other interest groups with responsibility for coastal wetlands monitoring. The document will be of great value and benefit to agencies planning to incorporate coastal wetland monitoring into their overall monitoring strategy.
The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Plan recommends multiple biological protocols and metrics for monitoring the condition of Great Lakes coastal wetlands – including those for plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and birds. Also recommended is a design for sampling Great Lakes coastal wetlands that allows users to monitor condition of these wetlands on an annual basis. With a combination of repeated site visits and random sampling of other wetlands on an annual basis, users can establish status and trends (positive, negative, no change) of wetland condition for a given site, region, or for all Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
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