Melissa Alexiou, Director of Waypoint Consulting Ltd., recently completed a professional development seminar on the Creation and Restoration of Wetlands at the Everglades Wetland Research Park, part of the Florida Gulf Coast University. Taught by wetland experts, William J. Mitsch, Ph.D. and Robin Lewis, the course included up-to-date scientific research, restoration case studies, and field trips.
Mangroves were a featured topic, particularly relevant to The Bahamas given the prevalence of this ecosystem across the archipelago. Mangroves provide ecosystem services such as nursery habitat, protection of coastlines against storm surge, and have recently gained importance for the storage of carbon, a contributor to climate change. Of note, the monetary value of ecosystem services by mangroves is perceived to be relatively high compared to other ecosystems.
With ongoing demand for coastal development, mangroves are often subject to the influence of development projects and are altered and/or removed for construction purposes. Thus, the ability to generate viable options for the mitigation of wetland loss and associated ecosystem services becomes paramount. Effective mitigation may be in the form of ‘ecological engineering’ which is ‘the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both’ as defined by William J. Mitsch.
Melissa participated in lectures which focused on the cost and success of restoration efforts. Highlighted topics included identification of mangrove health, effective restoration measures, defining restoration success and criteria, and mitigation banks, a popular mitigation credit mechanism in the United States. Mitigation banks provide a structured vehicle for offsite mitigation within designated restored areas managed by a third party.
Melissa is a local environmental and project management consultant.