Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

A cumulative impact management plan for a forested wetland watershed in the Mississippi River Floodplain


A management plan using a watershed-scale approach was devised to limit loss of wetland functions in the one million ha Tensas Basin, Louisiana, U.S.A. Proposals to develop wetland areas are evaluated for their potential to affect the structure and function of the landscape as a whole. The plan required two prior steps. First, we assessed the structural and functional status of the landscape through time. Second, using the assessment, we formulated a set of environmental goals. The assessment indicated that the landscape is severely degraded; of the original forest, 85% has been lost, and the deforestation has negatively affected water quality and biota. Specific goals were devised to conserve remaining wetland resources and to restore functional integrity to the basin as a whole. On the basis of these two prior steps and principles of landscape ecology and conservation biology, we devised a plan that would establish two large tracts of bottomland forest (BLF) totaling 102 000 and 63 000 ha. These tracts would be established by reforesting about 1000 ha of corridors, primarily along streams, linking existing forest patches. In addition, set-back levees and man-made diversions would be incorporated to restore natural flooding to certain areas of remaining BLF. Existing wetlands would be prioritized on the basis of size and density of patches and placed in one of three management categories. Implementation of such a plan is possible under the present regulatory authority of U.S. federal government programs administered by regulatory agencies responsible for wetland protection.


Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, Natural Resources and the Environment

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Wetlands Ecology and Management



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© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1992